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Impact and engagement

Communication, engagement, exchange, and enterprise skills underpin many research endeavours, whether this be public engagement, negotiating with businesses, engaging local communities, or working with policymakers and charities.

Engagement & Impact

At Teesside University, as a researcher you have access to a range of tools, resources and support to help you communicate effectively to non-specialists, network with business and industry, collaborators, and identify opportunities for research engagement and enterprise.

With significant expertise in knowledge brokerage and research engagement, Teesside University offers you the encouragement and support to engage stakeholders and develop deep and meaningful partnerships. Our comprehensive training programme provides support across the impact lifecycle, from research design to impact evaluation and legacy planning.

What is research impact?

Research impact is defined by Research England as a demonstrable 'effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia' (REF2021).

Research impact arises from a combination of sound research and a collaborative and engaged approach. Impact is best realised when research and research data are made open and accessible, when partnerships are equitable and sustainable, and when research questions and methods are adapted and modified to incorporate the views and expertise of stakeholders and beneficiaries.

While engagement isn't a prerequisite for research, it helps situate your research within the bigger picture.


Reading list

  • Bayley and Phipps. 2019. Building the concept of research impact literacy. Evidence and Policy. 15:4.
  • Reichard, Reed, Chubb, Hall, Jowett, Peart and Whittle. 2020. Writing impact case studies: a comparative study of high-scoring and low-scoring case studies from REF2014. Palgrave Communications. 6: 31
  • Chubb, Derrick. 2020. The impact a-gender: gendered orientations towards research Impact and its evaluation. Palgrave Communications 6:72.
  • Fenby-Hulse, Heywood, and Walker. 2019. Research Impact and the ECR. Routledge.
  • Greenhalgh, Raftery, Hanney, et al. 2016. Research impact: a narrative review. BMC Med 14:78.
  • Smith. 2020. The Impact Agenda: Controversies, Consequences and Challenges. Policy Press.

Research presentation and communication

Being able to communicate clearly and concisely to specialists and non-specialists audiences is an important research skill. Given the significant rise in the number of research publications over the last few decades, it is increasingly important to ensure that your research is discoverable and that the originality, rigour, and significance of your work is evident to the reader from the outset. The growth in interdisciplinary research (and research audiences) also means that as a researcher you need to be able to communicate to researchers both within and outside your discipline.

Originality, significance and rigour

Communicating the originality, significance and rigour of your research is important no matter what type of research communication you are undertaking. For the purposes of the Research Excellence Framework, the definitions below are used:

Originality is understood as the extent to which the output makes an important and innovative contribution to understanding and knowledge in the field. Research outputs that demonstrate originality may do one or more of the following: produce and interpret new empirical findings or new material; engage with new and/or complex problems; develop innovative research methods, methodologies and analytical techniques; show imaginative and creative scope; provide new arguments and/or new forms of expression, formal innovations, interpretations and/or insights; collect and engage with novel types of data; and/or advance theory or the analysis of doctrine, policy or practice, and new forms of expression.

Significance will be understood as the extent to which your work has influenced, or has the capacity to influence, knowledge and scholarly thought, or the development and understanding of policy and/or practice.

Rigour will be understood as the extent to which your work demonstrates intellectual coherence and integrity, and adopts robust and appropriate concepts, analyses, sources, theories and/or methodologies.

For more information on these definitions and more nuanced disciplinary perspectives, go to paragraph 287 onwards of the REF2021 Panel Criteria and Working Methods.


Reading list

  • Anderson. 2018. Scholarly Communication: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press.
  • Bammer and Boetcher Joeres. eds. 2015. The Future of Scholarly Writing: Critical Interventions. Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Heard. 2016. The Scientist's Guide to Writing: How to write more easily and effectively throughout your scientific career. Princeton University Press.
  • Jackson and Lenstrup. 2009. Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences. NIAS Press.
  • Kane. 1988. The New Oxford Guide to Writing. Oxford University Press.
  • Luey. 2010. Handbook for Academic Authors. Fifth Edition. Cambridge University Press.
  • Thomson and Kamler. 2016. Detox Your Writing: Strategies for Doctoral Researchers. Routledge.

Public and civic engagement with research

The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) describes public engagement as:
The myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.

At Teesside University, engaging the public with research forms part of our institutional mission and is embedded with our Engagement Strategy and Charter for Social Impact.

Public engagement and citizen science are seen as core components of Responsible Research and Innovation. They encourage a democratic approach to research design and practice and ensure public trust and investment in research and development.

Civic engagement with research focuses specifically on how to engage regional communities, organisations, and policymakers. Teesside University works with organisations across the organisation to ensure our research tackles region specific issues and inclusive regional development.


Reading list

  • Cerrato, Daelli, Pertot, and Puccioni. 2018. The public-engaged scientists: Motivations, enablers and barriers. Research for All. 2:2, 313-322.
  • Copley. 2018. Providing evidence of impact from public engagement with research: A case study from the UK's Research Excellence Framework (REF). Research for All<. 2:2, 230-243.
  • Goddard, Hazelkorn, Kempton, and Vallance. eds. 2016. The Civic University: The Policy and Leadership Challenges. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Hall and Tandon. eds. Knowledge, Engagement and Higher Education: Contributing to Social Change. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Panke and Stephens. Beyond the Echo Chamber: Pedagogical Tools for Civic Engagement Discourse and Reflection. Educational Technology & Society. 21: 1, 248-263.
  • The below journals may also be of interest:
    Research for All (UCL IOE Press with NCCPE).
    Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education (Indiana State University)

Research-informed policy and practice

Informing policy and practice involves engaging with a range of stakeholders and can be undertaken at local, national or international levels. It could involve actors from parliament, schools, charities, or international organisations. The focus could be on culture, energy, or social housing, to name just a few.

Achieving impact in this space can be difficult and the process challenging, often dependent on the political climate, available resource, and institutional and regional capabilities. As such, a thoughtful and strategic approach is required that involves, directly or indirectly, key influences, decision makers, and beneficiaries.


Reading list

  • Boaz, Davies, Fraser, and Nutley. Eds. 2019. What Works Now? Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice. Policy Press.
  • Cairney, Heikkila, and Wood. 2019. Making Policy in a Complex World. Cambridge University Press.
  • Chrisinger. 2017. Public Policy Writing That Matters. Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Head. 2015. Toward More "Evidence-Informed" Policy Making?. Public Administration Review. 79:3, 472-484.
  • Martinuzzi and Sedlačko.2016. Knowledge Brokerage for Sustainable Development: Innovative Tools for Increasing Research Impact and Evidence-Based Policy Making. Greenleaf Publishing.
  • Mols, Bell, and Head. 2020. Bridging the research-policy gap: the importance of effective identity leadership and shared commitment. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice. 16:1, 145-163.
  • Décieux. 2020. How much evidence is in evidence-based policymaking: a case study of an expert group of the European Commission. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice. 16:1, 45-63.

Exchange and enterprise

Whether through consultancy, contract research, research commercialisation, or start up initiatives, business creation and business engagement offers fruitful and exciting pathways to research impact. Enterprise and business engagement require an innovative and entrepreneurial mind-set and a good understanding of business practices, relationship management, and opportunity recognition.

The Department for Academic Enterprise offers bespoke and tailored support to researchers looking to engage business with research and innovation. In addition, our resource base provides you with a comprehensive introduction to business essentials, intellectual property, and knowledge exchange for researchers.


Reading list

  • Etzkowitz and Zhou. 2018. The Triple Helix: University-Industry-Government Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 2nd Edition. Routledge.
  • Fenby-Hulse, Heywood, and Walker. 2019. Research Impact and the Early Career Researcher. Routledge.
  • Gretsch, Salzmann, and Kock. University-industry collaboration and front-end success: the moderating effects of innovativeness and parallel cross-firm collaboration. R&D Management. 49:5, 835-849
  • Kenway, Bullen, and Robb. eds. 1997. Innovation and Tradition: The Arts, Humanities, and the Knowledge Economy. Peter Land.
  • Kuckertz, Kollmann, Krell and Stöckmann. 2017. Understanding, differentiating, and measuring opportunity recognition and opportunity exploitation. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research. 23:1, 78-97.
  • Owen. 2014. The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's commitment to a framework for responsible innovation. Journal of Responsible Innovation. 1:1, 113-117. DOI: 10.1080/23299460.2014.882065
  • Perkmann, Salandra, Tartari, McKelvey, and Hughes. 2021. Academic engagement: A review of the literature 2011-2019. Research Policy. 50: 1, 104114.

Impact evaluation and measurement

Evaluating and measuring the effect of engagement and enterprise activities and interventions throughout the research project lifecycle is crucial to delivering research impact.

For both the UK Research Excellence Framework and the Knowledge Exchange Framework, quantitative and qualitative evidence is needed to demonstrate the change that has resulted from the research.

There is no single approach or tool for conducting impact evaluations, though a case study approach has been adopted for the Research Excellence Framework. The approach taken, though, depends on what you want to achieve and the type of evidence you think you might need. It is recommended you consider the best approach at the outset of the project.


Reading list

  • Grant, Brutscher, Guthrie, Butler, and Wooding. 2010. Capturing Research Impacts: A review of international practice. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010.
  • Gunn & Mintrom. 2017. Evaluating the non-academic impact of academic research: design considerations. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. 39:1, 20-30. DOI: 10.1080/1360080X.2016.1254429
  • Vincent Mitchell. 2019. A proposed framework and tool for non-economic research impact measurement. Higher Education Research & Development. 38:4, 819-832. DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2019.1590319
  • Reed, Bryce, and Machen. 2018. Pathways to policy impact: a new approach for planning and evidencing research impact. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice<. 14: 3, 431-458. DOI:
  • Sreenan , Hinrichs-Krapels, and Pollitt et al. 2019. Impact by design: Planning your research impact in 7Cs [version 1; peer review: 2 approved with reservations]. Emerald Open Research. 2019, 1:18 DOI:
  • Tsey, Lawson, Kinchin, Bainbridge, McCalman, Watkin, Cadet-James and Rossetto. 2016. Evaluating Research Impact: The Development of a Research for Impact Tool. Public Health. 4:160. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2016.00160
  • Wilkinson. 2019. Evidencing impact: a case study of UK academic perspectives on evidencing research impact. Studies in Higher Education. 44:1, 72-85. DOI:

Boosting your research profile

This programme is open to all researchers, from PGR to Professor, and supports you to develop your academic profile, improve your communication skills, and write high quality publications.

Realising research impact

You are introduced to research impact and support with developing personalised impact plans and delivering high quality engagement and enterprise activities.

Find out more about our Training Programme.

Contact details

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