What is research impact?

Impact refers to the demonstrable changes and benefits that occur outside of academia as a result of research. The beneficiaries of research can be anywhere in the world and can be in any sector or area, be they charities, national or local governments, private companies, or members of the general public.

"...an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia."
REF 2021
“...the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy, of benefit to individuals, organisations and nations” 
UK Research and Innovation

See some examples of our Essex academics’ research impact

The Celebrating Excellence in Research and Impact awards is an annual event, which celebrates and showcases the excellent research and impact that has been generated by the University’s academic community in all areas of research. Find out more about our 2021 winners.

Why is it important?

Research impact has been given greater prominence in recent years due to its inclusion since 2014 in the Research Assessment Framework (REF). Many research funders also require you to identify and explore, throughout the life of your project and beyond, who could potentially benefit from your research, and what you will do to make this happen. Beyond these external drivers for impact, developing impact from research can benefit individual researchers in a number of ways:

  • Makes research proposals more attractive to funders
  • Brings your research to life for students
  • Collaborating with beneficiaries enriches your research and outcomes
  • Increased opportunity for testing or translation of your research in a real life setting
  • Personal satisfaction in demonstrating how your research makes a difference
  • Helps to raise your research profile