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Research Impact at Manchester

The creation of positive economic and societal impacts and benefits from our research is integral to the University’s 2020 strategy and cuts across all our fields of activity. 

Our aim is to be at the leading edge of realising and communicating the impact of our excellent research and advanced training.

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) define impact as: the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy. This occurs in many ways – through creating and sharing new knowledge and innovation; inventing groundbreaking new products, companies and jobs; developing new and improving existing public services and policy; enhancing quality of life and health; and many more.


Why does impact matter?

  • Spending public money means demonstrating the benefits of that investment to society = accountability
  • Research can be improved by engaging with a broad range of potential beneficiaries = quality
  • Shortening time to benefits, and increasing the impact we know our investments have = maximising benefits
  • It enhances UK attractiveness for research and innovation investment = reputation.

Using the PURE research information system to record details on your impact

As well as recording publications, projects and grant information, researchers can use Pure to capture details of other interactions, including knowledge exchange, engagement and impact.

For guidance on creating and recording impact records in PURE, including details on attaching documentation and evidence, see the Impact User Guide at the Pure support website

Why is evidencing impact from research important?

Evaluating and understanding the economic and societal impacts of the projects, programmes and activities we are involved in is key to improving our practice and in demonstrating the value that we create.

Just as there are many 'types' of impact there are many different ways to evidence this - from patient surveys to legal documentation, to statistical data.

Impact can occur throughout the research cycle and it is useful to capture information in an ongoing way. This will help to make the case for future funding and may eventually lead to a REF impact case study.

Useful resources for evidence collection

Presentations from the University of Manchester 'Evidencing Impact' Workshop (December 2018) are available on the REF2021 resources page

Collecting research impact evidence - best practice guidance (Vertigo Ventures & Digital Science, June 2016)

University Support for Impact

There is a network of 10 Knowledge Exchange & Impact Officers across our three Faculties. Many Schools across the University also have Academic Leads for Impact/Impact Champions.

The University Research Impact Group provides the governance framework for impact and is chaired by Prof Colette Fagan, Vice-President for Research.

A number of  networks and departments across the University can offer impact-related support and advice, for example see:

Knowledge Exchange Team - For enquiries related to any of the Knowledge Transfer and Exchange schemes, including Impact Accelerator Accounts, KTPs, etc. (links below)

Business Engagement Support Team - advising on existing relationships and helping build partnerships with local, regional and international organisations.

UMIP - The University of Manchester's agent for intellectual property (IP) management and commercialisation activities

Overview of support and guidance from the Policy@Manchester network.

Public Engagement @ Manchester - guides and toolkits.

Cultural Partners: an event hosted in The Whitworth on 20th June 2019 brought together researchers with colleagues from Manchester Museum, John Rylands Library, Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chester Zoo to discuss common challenges and explore new ways of working together. Some key resources from the day are listed below:

Toolkits and resources

Guidance materials on integrating impact into research planning and grant applications (structuring applications, costing activities, evidence capture, etc.)  and links to Research Council guidance on impact are in the Pathways to Impact sub-section.

A short guidance note on Impact in Horizon 2020 has been produced in collaboration with the University's EU funding team.

Two YouTube films have some helpful hints from experienced University of Manchester researchers and engagement experts:

Also available are sample design templates for producing single and grouped impact case studies

External resources

REF Impact Case Studies Database - search and access Impact Case Studies submitted by Institutions across the UK to the REF2014. Possibility to filter by Institution, Impact Type, Research Subject Area, Keywords, etc

The Independent review of the Research Excellence Framework by Lord Nicholas Stern - 'Building on success and learning from experience' July 2016.

NCCPE report - The role of public engagement in the REF February 2017.

RAND 2014. Preparing impact submissions for REF 2014: An evaluation: Findings and observations. Catriona Manville, Molly Morgan Jones, Michael Frearson, Sophie Castle-Clarke, Marie-Louise Henham, Salil Gunashekar, Jonathan Grant.

The nature, scale and beneficiaries of research impact: An initial analysis of Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 impact case studies. Research Report 2015/01. King's College London and Digital Science.

The Metric Tide: Report of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management - The review’s outcomes report will interest researchers and will inform the work of HEFCE and the other UK higher education funding bodies as they prepare for the future of the Research Excellence Framework. July 2015.

Encouraging a British Invention Revolution: Sir Andrew Witty’s Review of Universities and Growth - October 2013. 

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology - how to get involved: POST website

Use the Register of All-Party Groups to find UK Parliamentarians who might be interested in your research

LSE Impact blog - encouraging debate, sharing best practice and keeping the impact community up to date with news, events and the latest research

Wellcome Trust - Engagement with your research - information on funding, training, online resources and advice.

Using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities - some useful tips to bear in mind.

Three ways podcasting can make you a more engaged academic

Tools for Policy Impact: a handbook for researchers - Practical guidance and advice from the Overseas Development Institute

Pathways to impact

Guidance on writing Pathways to Impact and planning impact into the research process

Guidance documents and templates

Impact planning for research projects: short guide on defining different types of impact, identifying potential beneficiaries and using milestones and indicators to capture evidence of change.

Costing and resourcing impact activities in your research plan: guidance on activities that are eligible to include and indicative costs

Evaluating and evidencing the impact of your research: a short guide on key elements to bear in mind

Pathways to Impact guidance (v. Nov 2015) : More detailed guidance on writing and supporting Pathways to Impact applications at the University of Manchester.

Pathways to Impact : Suggested headings to structure your P2I application : Research Councils recommend using some standard headings to structure applications (beneficiaries, milestones, etc.). This document provides some guidance on what sort of information you might include under these headings.

Pathways to Impact:  Involving external stakeholders : Colleagues at the University can provide valuable support when trying to engage with external stakeholders. Some of this is outlined in this guidance note.

Pathways to Impact - Example of Workshop/Event checklist 


Online training

Pathways to Impact: Online interactive training module: A short interactive overview of 1. Where and how impact may result from research, 2. Tips on preparing an Impact Summary and Pathways to Impact statement, 3. Signposts to support at Manchester for communicating and engaging around research.

Research Council resources on research impact

Most Research Councils have specific guidance and advice on completing Pathways to Impact applications, see: 

AHRC impact guidance

BBSRC impact guidance

ESRC impact toolkit

RCUK impact guidance


Building impact into Funding Proposals: Presentation from training session on Pathways to Impact led by Jennifer Chubb (York) for Research Support Managers and Impact Officers at UoM in July 2014. 

Research impact pipeline: The Research Impact pipeline is a model produced by researchers at Brunel University. It can be useful in terms of planning activities at different stages in the research cycle.

UKCDS Evaluating the impact of research programmes

The guidance documents above are intended to be flexible and to evolve over time, so please contact if you have any feedback or comments: