The growing ‘impact agenda’ has forced researchers more than ever to consider the wider social effects of their work. Understandings of impact vary widely, and the costs and difficulty of measuring it are well-known.
The STEPS Centre has established an Impact, Communications and Engagement (ICE) unit to build our understanding of impact. The ICE unit supports projects to consider about what they are contributing to local contexts, as well as to national and international debates and processes.
A multimedia story tracing our work on Ebola, avian flu and other diseases since 2006. The first in a short series of impact stories drawn from a decade of research and engagement, it focuses on how the STEPS Centre engaged with policy, practice and debates on how to prevent and respond to disease.
This story looks at how the STEPS Centre responded to the explosion in land grabbing in 2007 and 2008 and revealed the role of ‘green grabs’ and ‘water grabs’. Our work went on to explore the politics and conflicts involved in offsetting schemes and the ‘green economy’, and open up debates about emerging discourses such as the Anthropocene.
Blog posts on impact
Research collaboration for global challenges: why it’s really hard by Ian Scoones, STEPS blog, 11 April 2016
Celebrating impact: How multidisciplinary One Health research produced results for real change in the real world by Naomi Marks, Nature Soapbox blog, 8 June 2016
Participatory approaches to impact: Learning from the STEPS Centre at Sussex Impact Day by Nathan Oxley, Research To Action blog, 22 June 2015
Framing impact: a simple word for a complex beast by Nathan Oxley, STEPS blog, 8 October 2013
We use a planning tool called Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA). PIPA aims to include project partners in discussing the actors and networks we might influence through a research project. We also look at how best to engage with them, and what power and politics are involved.
For more details on how we use this method, look at our PIPA page in the Methods section of this website.
PIPA allows us to identify differences in outlook and knowledge among project partners. We have used it because we want to understand how our projects interact with wider processes of social change.
Our projects are also tracking interactions with individuals and networks. This has helped to build up a picture of where our work has an influence, and the potential reach of our ideas.
We reviewed our PIPAs in the middle of our projects and at the end, and compared them, to understand our success and challenges, and what unexpected impacts had emerged.
Working paper on impact
This paper by Adrian Ely and Nathan Oxley explores the STEPS Centre’s approach to impact within the context of wider debates and responses to the impact agenda. It also describes our use of the ‘Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis’ (PIPA) method, reflects on how it has interacted with our research and covers our emerging thinking about how to evaluate the impact of our projects.
- STEPS Centre Research: Our Approach to Impact
Adrian Ely and Nathan Oxley
STEPS Working Paper 60
ESRC Impact Awards
STEPS Director Ian Scoones was a winner of the Outstanding International Impact Award at the ESRC’s 50th anniversary Celebrating Impact Award ceremony in June 2015, for his work on rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe.
In June 2016, Melissa Leach (Director of the Institute of Development Studies) and team were shortlisted in the same category for their work on the Ebola Response Anthropology Platform (ERAP) and the related Ebola: lessons for development initiatives.