by Rebecca Sierig

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you should be able to…

  • Understand general definitions, methods, and frameworks for impact and its measurement for research infrastructures
  • Contextualise your understanding of impact and its challenges within the internal and external environments of any research infrastructure or project development

If researchers want to persist in academia, their research needs to have some impact. By creating occasions of influence such as publishing an article, giving a presentation, sharing data or writing research blogs they can create research impact and consequently change other people’s way of thinking or behaving (for a closer look on individual researchers’ impact, consult the corresponding section about researchers’ impact).
Not only individuals but also larger communities, organisations and facilities need to create and prove their impact, especially if they receive funding. This subsection deals with the impact of a special kind of facility; it focuses on research infrastructures. Digital research infrastructures like CLARIN, DARIAH, EHRI or Europeana can be imagined as networks of knowledge, resources, people and data aiming, inter alia, at greater efficiency of top-level research (for a deeper understanding of the concept of research infrastructures, consult the resources below or the introductory section about research infrastructures). The question, in how far research infrastructures change or even improve research, leads us directly to the notion of impact, which will be explained in the first part of this section. As the terms impact and outreach can be easily mixed up, this first part also strives to bring more clarity into the relationship between both terms.
However, knowing what the impact of a research infrastructures means, does not equal being able to prove this impact, for instance, to stakeholders and funders. Therefore, people responsible for the management of research infrastructures need to reflect on how the impact of their facility can be measured. This topic will be dealt with in the second part of this section.
Enhancing the impact of a research infrastructure will be of interest of both the management department of this infrastructure and the stakeholders and funders. How research infrastructures can enhance their impact and which challenges to tackle, will be the topic of the third part of this section.
The section concludes with Voices from the community. In a selection of videos, members of the Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage community, who are for one or other reasons experts in the fields of impact and outreach, provide answers to the following questions:

  1. How do you define outreach and impact?
  2. How do you measure the impact of a research infrastructure?
  3. How do you create impact for a research infrastructure?