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Pathways to Impact

Identifying Impact in your Research

The Project Support Office works with academic and research principal investigators to develop research and innovation projects, aimed at achieving and maximizing beneficial impact on the local, national and international communities that the University serves. We work with the University’s Research Policy Unit and the Doctoral College to ensure our funding strategies and research policies and practice meet the requirements of enhancing the impact of the University’s research.

The Project Support Office can help you define and address the potential impact of your research proposal.  For more information please contact

Research grant applications to UKRI contain a mandatory component (Pathways to Impact) which describes how the research will make a difference to the society, economy and livelihoods. Impact occurs in many ways – through knowledge exchange, new products and processes, new companies and job creation, skills development, increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy, enhancing quality of life and health, international development and so on.

As part of the research proposals it is important to consider from the outset and throughout the life of the project and beyond, who could potentially benefit from the research and what can be done to help make this happen.

UKRI Pathways to Impact

All funders have a common understanding of the importance of societal and economic as well as academic impact.

Through the Research Councils academics are required to consider the future impact of research at the point of applying for funding. The UK HE Funding Bodies, in context of the REF, assesses the historic evidence of impact. Research impact on funded projects is reported to UKRI through the Researchfish system which records the detailed outputs and outcomes on research projects. The University’s contact for this system is the Project Support Office. You can reach us on

What does impact look like:


Research Councils UK definition of impact:

Academic impact

The demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to academic advances, across and within disciplines, including significant advances in understanding, methods, theory and application.

When applying for Research Council funding via Je-S, pathways towards academic impact are expected to be outlined in the Academic Beneficiaries and appropriate Case for Support sections. An exception to this is where academic impact forms part of the critical pathway to economic and societal impact.

Economic and societal impacts

The demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy.

Economic and societal impacts embrace all the extremely diverse ways in which research-related knowledge and skills benefit individuals, organisations and nations by:

  • fostering global economic performance, and specifically the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom,
  • increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy,
  • enhancing quality of life, health and creative output.

Public engagement may be included as one element of the Pathway to Impact. Engaging the public with the research can improve the quality of research and its impact, raise the profile of the applicant, and develop the applicant’s skills. It also enables members of the public to act as informed citizens and can inspire the next generation of researchers.

A clearly thought through and acceptable Pathways to Impact statement

A clearly thought through and acceptable Pathways to Impact is an essential component of a research proposal and a condition of funding. Grants will not be allowed to start until a clearly thought through and acceptable Pathways to Impact statement is received.

A clearly thought through and acceptable Pathways to Impact statement should:

  • be project-specific and not generalised;
  • be flexible and focus on potential outcomes;

Researchers should be encouraged to:

  • identify and actively engage relevant users of research and stakeholders at appropriate stages;
  • articulate a clear understanding of the context and needs of users and consider ways for the proposed research to meet these needs or impact upon understandings of these needs;
  • outline the planning and management of associated activities including timing, personnel, skills, budget, deliverables and feasibility;
  • include evidence of any existing engagement with relevant end users

Top Tips for articulating potential impact:

  • Draft the Impact Summary very early in your preparation, so that it informs the design of your research.
  • Remember to consider and include project specific costs relating to proposed impact activities e.g. engagement workshops or marketing materials, publication costs, etc.
  • Do not cut and paste the text provided within the Impact Summary into Pathways to Impact. The purpose of the Impact Summary is to provide a short description of the beneficiaries and potential impacts, which could be used in the public domain. Pathways to Impact should set out what the applicant(s) will do to realise the potential impacts.
  • Public engagement is a popular form of impact activity. For such activities to be as effective as possible, try to think of your research in the context of two-way engagement not just outreach.

Further support for completing your Pathways to Impact can be found on individual Research Council websites:

For more information please contact

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