Impact Case Studies

This section provides you with resources, tools and examples to support you to write your impact case studies

The art of writing a good impact case study

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:

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)

Top tips

The following are some top-tips to writing your Impact Case Study

  1. Know your audience – it is important to be able to tell your story so that it is accessible and engaging to your intended audience
  2. 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.
  3. Be specific as possible – give tangible and relatable examples, name countries, policies, organisations etc
  4. 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
  5. 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.

Our writing retreats and writing sprints can help you to draft your Impact Case Study, check the training and development pages for up and coming workshops.

Below provides some examples of our research and the impact that they have achieved.

Addressing driver behaviour

Helping to create Ashwoods Lightfoot® and enable fleet managers to reduce the fuel costs and CO2 footprint from 2,500 vehicles

View Case Study

Creating fast, accurate tests for disease

Attaching electrochemical tags to DNA could allow GPs to diagnose and treat patients in just one visit.

View Case Study

Bio-banding – the search for tomorrow’s champions

The role of biobanding in improving the identification of future atheletes

View Case Study

REF Impact Case Studies

For more examples of Research Excellence Framework (REF) impact case studies, visit the impact database for those submitted in the 2014 assessment exercise.

Visit Database

Recording your impact story

The University of Bath use PURE as their system for managing information about your research publications, projects, activities and impacts.

Access Pure