What is research impact?

Impact refers to academic and societal impact. Academic impact is impact within your research field. Societal impact is impact on a specific target group outside of academia. This impact is often indirect through impact on policy, professional practice or industry. You can only really speak of impact when research has brought about a change. Much of what we classify as impact is actually potential impact, a step towards bringing about change.

Steps towards impact are:

  • Publishing – Through the publication process, a publication usually appears in important databases such as WoS or Scopus. This also includes Open Access publishing and alternative channels that scholars can use to reach their audience.
  • Showcasing – Scholars have multiple means at their disposal to showcase their (published) research, e.g., a personal website, the university website with the personal profile page, or listings in other places. By registering in a CRIS, the metadata of publications will also be visible in other places.
  • Promoting – This includes any additional activity to promote and draw attention to the scientific result.

You can obtain insight into (the effect of) publishing, showcasing and promotional activities through monitoring and analysis. The UM Research Intelligence team can assist in gaining these insights.

Why is research impact important?

Research impact is taken into account when research groups are being evaluated formally by the Strategy Evaluation Protocols (SEP), but also when your own academic work or career is being evaluated for funding, promotion or appointments.

As a researcher, you can use different strategies to improve the (potential) academic and societal impact of your research in all phases of the publishing process. They may be applied during the preprint phase (while planning, writing and choosing a journal to publish in), but also in the post-print phase after the article or study is published. Eventually, all strategies aim to increase the exposure of your work for target groups inside and outside of academia, to in turn increase the likelihood that your work is discussed, commented upon, mentioned, used or cited. The strategies range from publishing OA, archiving post-prints and (sharing) datasets, creating derivative works, engaging with (social) media, journalists or parliamentarians, and combinations thereof.

Taylor and Francis published a Research impact ebook, addressing these themes in a coherent fashion, with many suggestions and additional links to other sources that dive deeper into themes.

A “how to” guide for researchers “Showcasing your research to advance your career” has been published by Clarivate. It will help you easily collect your work (using your ORCID) and showcase it to get noticed by potential collaborators and be prepared for evaluations.

To find out more about national and local policies on Open Access publishing and Research Data Management, you can visit the University Library’s Open Access guide and Research Data Management (RDM) portal.

To find out more about publishing and impact, register for one of our workshops.