Five questions you should ask yourself before planning your impact activities
Quite often you might feel the temptation to rush into carrying out specific impact activities. It might sound counterproductive but the more you plan the more efficient and targeted your results will be in the future. Questions are a great way to identify what the weaknesses may be and how to overcome them. These five questions will help you define your objectives, save time and be more efficient.
Question 1: Who are the research users/ beneficiaries of your research?
First, you need to identify who the people you are intending to drive positive change to are. It could be that you have worked with them before, even contacted them for data collection purposes, either way, you should aim to have a rough- if not definite- idea of who would be interested in your research.
Reach out to other colleagues to find out whether they have connections with them that can facilitate an introduction. Engagement and building trust are essential.
Question 2: How will they benefit from your research?
Once you have identified the beneficiaries, it is useful to think about the kinds of aspects they will be interested in gaining from your research. Are there any specific points they would find more useful?
Try to arrange meetings with the beneficiaries to identify these aspects and exchange ideas so as to make this exchange more efficient. You may also need to consider which methods and how you will aim to communicate your research in a way that is understandable and relevant to their context.
Question 3: How are you planning to ensure long-term engagement?
This question is particularly useful if you are planning to capture longitudinal impacts. Ensuring that people still engage after the impact activity takes place is essential for guaranteeing that relevant impacts are captured afterwards. Think about the ways in which you are planning to keep in touch with the beneficiaries. Incorporate this as part of your weekly or monthly schedule and make sure you block sufficient time for a phone call, an in-person visit or for sending a few emails.
Question 4: If you are running an event, how are you planning to follow it up?
Running events, such as workshops, small festivals and interventions are great ways to disseminate your work. Equally important is to decide ahead of the event how you will collect attendees’ details to do a follow-up after the event has taken place.
Perhaps you are thinking of bringing someone for the day to help you ask people to fill out forms with their personal details and have their consent to be contacted in the future. Either way, it is important to foresee as much as possible how you will achieve this.
Question 5: Will you need support collecting and analysing the data?
Once again perhaps the event was very successful or you decide to replicate it in a different way, if you end up with lots of potential participants you might want to consider engaging someone to help you not only with data collection but also with the analysis.
An additional benefit of doing this is that you will provide a more unbiased approach to data management and for corroborating the necessary sources for preparing the impact case study.
At M.R. Language Services I can help you put a plan in place to be successful in your impact activities and manage your data for effective reporting. Get in touch.
Mariana Roccia is a research impact consultant for the Culture, Continuity and Transformation Research Priority Area at University of Gloucestershire. She works with academic staff to identify potential areas of non- academic dissemination, engagement and collaborations with other academics and non-academic institutions to ensure their research is reaching a wider audience in preparation for REF 2027. Some of her achievements include preparing a report that led to a 4* Impact Case Study for REF 2021. Mariana is also a certified translator English and Spanish, co-convenor of the International Ecolinguistics Association, and book series co-editor of Bloomsbury Advances in Ecolinguistics. Mariana is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), Member of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and Committee Member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting’s Western Regional Group. Keep in touch with Mariana on LinkedIn, Facebook and Academia.edu.