The York Law School (YLS) Impact Strategy is a component part of the YLS Research Strategy. It aims to identify and articulate the ways YLS sets about achieving the impact-oriented aspects of its vision and mission. It seeks to do so in a manner that enhances the relationships between undertaking and publishing research, the impact of research, and the YLS research environment so as to enrich the impact opportunities and skills for YLS researchers.
From its establishment YLS has seen impact beyond academia as a vital part of its work and impact quickly became a highly significant arm of YLS activity. This has continued with further development of impact awareness, dedicated financial resources within YLS, applications to UoY ESRC IAA funding, the inclusion of impact in recruitment considerations, and the appointment of an Impact Lead and a research facilitator. A growing number of staff actively pursue impact as part of their research, with the support of the Department and its Impact Lead. Impact is a core pillar of the School’s identity, both internally within YLS and UoY, and externally as engagement with and recognition by major stakeholders continues to show that YLS researchers are widely active outside the academy and our research has important practical implication and applications.
Impact has been defined in different ways in recent years but is suitably captured by a definition used often: “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.” For YLS staff having impact will often mean influencing or shaping law and policy or practice, but it is by no means limited to that. The scope of possible impact is wide, as is the scope of our research. Impact might be local, regional, national, or international in focus. All are inherently valuable. All are represented by existing research at YLS. Organisations, groups and individuals that have engaged with and benefited from YLS impact-oriented activities include – for example – civil society groups, citizens advice bureaux, corporations, governments and parliaments in the UK and abroad, health professionals, housing officers and tenants, human rights defenders, insurers, international organisations, journalists, legal advisors, lawyers and judges, legal educators, local authorities, migrants, protestors, and supranational bodies. Impact may also arise from our distinctive practice and scholarship in teaching.
The ethos of YLS and its approach to impact is driven by the shared commitment to the value that scholarly research can and should have outside the academy and the positive differences it can make to the lives of individuals and communities.
Development of a strong impact culture: Central to achieving our vision and mission, YLS seeks to develop a strong impact culture. This is a shared endeavour and, as citizens of the School, all staff have a part to play. A strong impact culture means that in YLS all staff for whom research is a significant part of their work:
We recognise impact is only one part of the YLS mission and vision, that it takes time, that relationships with external stakeholders need to be both developed and maintained, and that different people will contribute in different ways at different times to the achievement of the wider mission. As such, the intensity of impact activities may vary among individuals and over time. In addition, many in the wider YLS community have skills, networks and expertise (especially in practice) that contribute to a strong impact culture.
Strategies: YLS has seven strategies that are directed towards achieving our vision and mission: (1) impact leadership, including through a dedicated Impact Lead; (2) impact planning and support for individuals and research clusters, including through mentoring, annual research planning, Research Facilitator and Impact Lead support for impact design and funding, ring-fenced YLS impact funding, YLS support for applications for IAA or similar funding, and peer review; (3) building and sharing knowledge, networks and experience, including in sustaining external relationships; (4) developing and providing specialist skills for achieving impact; (5) impact capture to identify impact and evidence of impact; (6) including impact considerations in recruitment; (7) recognition of impact achievements. The School will endeavour to devote sufficient resources with flexibility such that researchers have time available at the point they need it, especially for major impact activities.