This section provides you with resources, tools and examples to support you to write your impact case studies
What are Impact Case Studies?
Impact case studies are evidence based stories about the difference your research has made to the world. They explain why the research was necessary, the journey your research has taken, and the difference (impact) your research has made i.e. they cover the what, where, when, who and how.
Impact case studies are useful ways of conveying, in engaging and compelling stories, complex areas of research. They can be used to tell your story on websites, as part of your CV, grant applications, impact awards as well as submission to assessment frameworks such as the Research Excellence Framework (REF).
Research Excellence Framework
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the process of assessing the quality and impact of research within UK Higher Education Institutions.
This process enables UK funding bodies to benchmark and allocate funding to higher education institutions as well as provide accountability for their investments.
The first assessment process took place in 2014 and our most recent submission was in 2021 with results due in March 2022. For more information about REF 2021 please visit: https://www.ref.ac.uk
REF Impact Case Studies
As a part of the REF assessment process, higher education institutions are asked to prepare and write impact case studies for peer review. These impact case studies outline the changes and benefits that research has had on society, economy, public policy and practice, environment and quality of life. They are presented within a template, are up to 5 pages in length and undergo peer review by a panel of experts.
A full database of impact case studies from the previous exercise conducted in 2014 are available from Research England.
REF Impact Definitions
For REF 2021 “Impact is defined 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”. (Research England, REF 2021)
Impact needs to show both:
Significance = the degree to which impact has enabled, enriched, influenced, informed or changed the performance, policies, practices, products, services, understanding, awareness or well-being of the beneficiaries.
Reach = the extent and/or diversity of the beneficiaries of the impact, as relevant to the nature of the impact.
REF eligibility criteria
Your case study was eligible for submission to the Research Excellence Framework in 2021 if…
Your research was carried out between 1st January 2000 and 31 December 2020 at the University of Bath
Your impact occurred between 1 August 2013 and 31st July 2020 (this was extended to 31st December 2021 due to COVID-19)
The following are some top-tips to writing your Impact Case Study
Know your audience – it is important to be able to tell your story so that it is accessible and engaging to your intended audience
Articulate your impact and how it was achieved – start by setting out the context (why was this research important, what problem was it addressing), the difference you made (what did it change, who did it affect, influence, inform?) and how this was achieved. Think why, what, who, when, where and how.
Be specific as possible – give tangible and relatable examples, name countries, policies, organisations etc
Evidence your impact – provide evidence to support your claims and include quotes and extracts in your Impact Case Study so that it is accessible to the audience
Look at Examples – the REF 2014 Impact Case Study database provide a range of examples.
For more top tips Read our blog, visit our FAQ page for answers to your impact case study and REF related questions, or use our checklist to ensure your impact case study meets the key requirements.