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What is research impact?

Research impact is the effect research has beyond academia. The York Research Impact Statement (PDF , 286kb) describes research impact as “…when the knowledge generated by our research contributes to, benefits and influences society, culture, our environment and the economy”. More detailed direction and objectives for research impact at York are set out in York's Strategic Framework for Impact (staff only)

The type of impact your research might have is specific to each project and therefore, like research, impact is wide ranging and varied. Some of the key areas of research impact include;

  • Cultural impact
  • Economic impact
  • Environmental impact
  • Social impact 
  • Impact on health and wellbeing
  • Policy influence and change
  • Legal impact
  • Technological developments

This small series of infographics will give you some more ideas about what impact is and how it is defined:


What isn’t impact?

It can sometimes be hard to distinguish the difference between the routes to research impact (often known as knowledge exchange, engagement, or impact activities) and the impact itself. You may find it helpful to consider impact as something that other people or institutions gain or do - it is not something that you as a researcher can ‘do’ rather you can encourage it through impact activities. For example: giving evidence to a select committee, working with a business or contributing to an exhibition in a museum is not impact. It would become impact if the people or organisation involved somehow do, experience or understand differently as a result of their interaction with the research.   

Examples of impact - More examples of York's research impact can be seen in REF 2014 impact case study database, which contains the impact case studies submitted to the last REF.