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Impact in research grant applications

Research Councils UK

Research Councils UK

Research Councils UK (RCUK) is one of our largest external funders. It is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils. Impact has become increasingly important to RCUK and is now a key part of their funding application process through impact summaries and pathways to impact.

Impact summaries

When writing an impact summary you need to address two key questions;

Who might benefit from your research?

How might they benefit?

Top tips

  • Ensure that the impacts are specific to your research.
  • If there is more than one beneficiary put them in order of priority.
  • Write simply and clearly, where possible avoid jargon - this will make it easier for reviewers from related fields to grasp the benefits of your work.
  • Do not include confidential information as impact summaries can be used for publicity.
  • Do not include academic impact.

Pathways to impact

When writing your pathway to impact the most important question to answer is:

What will you do to ensure that potential beneficiaries have the opportunity to engage with your research?’

Top tips

  • Be a specific as you can in who the possible beneficiaries of your research are.
  • Write about the routes to impact you intend to use, where appropriate show that you consider them to be a two way process of knowledge exchange. (For more information about possible routes please look at our routes to impact pages).
  • Make sure your planned routes to impact are appropriate for your beneficiaries/audience.
  • Consider a timescale for impact – when you might do activities and who will be responsible for organising them.
  • Include the costings for routes to impact. If possible mention how you intend to evaluate and gather evidence of impact.
  • Try to write concisely ensuring only relevant information is included – don’t be tempted to try and fill all the available space if you don’t need to.

Top tool:

This guidance and planning sheet will help you plan how to complete the impact sections of your RCUK grant effectively. It has been developed from a tool written by Annabel Jenkins for the Maths Department (but is relevant to reserachers from all departments applying to all the Research Councils). Guidance on impact in RCUK applications (MS Word , 28kb) 

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For more information about how to write impact summaries and pathways to impact please look at the RCUK impact guidance and the NCCPE pathways to impact pages.

In addittion, the EPSRC have some innovative examples of pathways to impact on their website which you may find helpful.

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Other external funders

Other external funders

Research at the University of York is also supported by a variety of other external funders. A growing number of these are taking an interest in research impact including; 

You may find the advice given for RCUK pathways to impact is a helpful starting point when doing other applications. But it is critical to check the guidelines provided by the funder you are applying to. If you have any more questions try one of our useful contacts.

Impact funding opportunities - for information about funding schemes specifically for impact activities please look at our impact funding opportunities pages.