SOAS University of London


Research Impact

Impact in research refers to the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) defines impact as 'an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia'. Economic and societal impacts embrace all the extremely diverse ways in which research-related knowledge and skills benefit individuals, organisations and nations by:

  • Fostering global economic performance, and specifically the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom;
  • Increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy;
  • Enhancing quality of life, health and creative output.

There are various ways in which research can contribute to impact beyond academia – through dissemination of research findings in a language and format that is understandable to non-academic audiences, through advising and influencing the decision-making of organisations and institutions on the basis of the research findings, or through engaging with local communities and the wider society to change perceptions, raise awareness and encourage positive change change.  Public engagement is indeed key to creating impact. Engaging the public with your research can improve the quality of research and its impact, raise your profile, and develop your skills. It also enables members of the public to act as informed citizens and can inspire the next generation of researchers.

Ways in which the Research Office can help:

  • General support and training to understand research impact and impact in REF 2021;
  • Consultation and advice on embedding impact into research proposals; proof-reading of Impact Summaries and Pathways to Impact sections of ESRC, AHRC and other grant applications.
  • Advice on capturing evidence of impact throughout the life-cycle of the research;
  • Guidance on applying for the internally managed Impact Acceleration Fund.

For more information, please contact Silvia Guizzardi, Impact Officer: