Five steps to greater research impact

What makes good research? This question can be at the heart of many a long discussion and debate, however, the impact of research is generally acknowledged as a top priority for funders. This inevitably influences your need to ensure that your research achieves maximum reach and impact. There are many ideas on the most effective way to achieve this.
A team of researchers, funded by the European Research Council in the UK, did a piece of worldwide investigation of the most effective way to increase the impact of research. As a result, they have developed a five step approach to enable researchers to achieve greater impact.

In a post on Fast Track Your Impact they share their key tips, adapted from quotes based on a qualitative analysis of respondents that include researchers and stakeholders. Here are the highlights of the most effective strategies divided into the five steps. In summary the key takeaways are to ensure that the project is well planned and that there is good communication.

1. Design
Understand what everyone wants and get buy-in from the key stakeholders. Identify individuals who can champion the project.
Take your time, design your knowledge exchange activities carefully and initiate these activities early on in the project. The process is as important as the outcome.
Use a variety of methods to engage with stakeholders and ensure that the management of the research is seen as independent.
Visualise your research Click here to read about storyboarding your research.

2. Represent
Involve the right people and not just the usual suspects.
Take time to understand the vertical and horizontal connections within your organisation.
It often takes personal initiative from a stakeholder to push the process through and maintain momentum.

3. Engage
Invest time in getting to know the research team. Make connections through awaydays and build on individual personal relationships through more natural social activities.
Capacity build within the team, share responsibilities, and ensure that people are in their comfort zones.
Keep your research goals in mind and record what has worked, as well as what hasn’t worked.
Work around people’s commitments, use multiple modes of two-way communication and keep it simple.
Respect local knowledge and cultural context.
Be enthusiastic and find out what motivates people, build trust within the team, and most of all enjoy!

4. Impact
Work for the mutual benefit of all the stakeholders.
Ensure that the practical outcomes are delivered as these will be seen as quick wins.

5. Reflect and Sustain
Get participant feedback regularly and monitor the process. Keep the stakeholders involved in the whole process and the final outcomes.
Finally, learn from others who have achieved great impact in similar works and institutes.

You may also be interested in our popular post Busting 5 Myths of university-industry collaboration. The key highlights are to ensure that the project addresses a particular need and that communication channels are of utmost importance but are not dependent on geographic location.

Click here to read the full list of quotes from the qualitative research on the Impact for Research blog.


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