What is the impact of research and how is it measured? Researchers, stakeholders and funders are eager for evidence that their work is having a positive effect, whether on society, on the economy or on future thinking.
The science of measuring research impact is still in its infancy and means different things to different people in different locations. But the STEPS Centre believes we can look for positive changes and for processes that maximise those positive changes in our work.
We use a variety of methods to try and assess the impact of our research and associated engagement and communications activities in a systematic way across all our projects. For project planning and evaluation we use a practical method called Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA), which helps map out what our research is trying to do, the actors involved, the methods by which we are seeking to exact change and which pathways to impact may be realised, among other things.
This, along with other measurements, is allowing us to develop our thinking around the complex issue of impact, which we hope to share with other researchers, keeping in mind that impact is a two-way process, a knowledge-exchange: we are not purely ‘having’ an impact on others, but they are impacting on the work of the Centre.