Scoping impact: Mapping contemporary trends in research impact definition

Eugenia Rodrigues





We are excited to invite you to a special seminar showcasing the results of a SKAPE-led ESRC project about the role of “impact” on policy. This project will be presented by SKAPE’s co-directors, Nathan and Eugenia, as well as SKAPE member Hilary MacDonogh. More details are below.



The goal of maximising research impact occupies an important role in academic life. The UK became a leader in furthering the ‘impact agenda’ when Research Councils UK introduced ‘pathways to impact’ statements to research grant proposals in 2009 and the Research Excellent Framework began evaluating impact case studies in 2014. Since then, there has been considerable criticism of impact requirements and assessments even as these practices have spread internationally. In this context, the Economic and Social Research Council commissioned SKAPE to examine how other funders are defining and conceptualising research impact to inform their own future thinking on the subject. This seminar presents the results of that 6-month project. We examine our three main findings: 1) some funders are expanding their definitions of impact to include processes such as knowledge exchange and engagement, 2) there is increasing interest in using metrics to evidence and evaluate the social impact of research, but no one metric is sufficient to operate on a cross-disciplinary basis, 3) measuring the economic impact of social science research remains a puzzle. We conclude by presenting the implications for policy and practice.


Speaker Biographies

Nathan Coombs is co-director of SKAPE and a Senior Lecturer in Economic Sociology in the School of Social and Political Science.

Hilary MacDonogh is a member of SKAPE and a doctoral research student in Social Policy in the School of Social and Political Science.

Eugénia Rodrigues is co-director of SKAPE and a Lecturer in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies in the School of Social and Political Science.




Featured image by Lucy Goodchild van Hilten in “How can we measure research impact? Funders share their insights”.


Nov 01 2023


1:00 am - 2:00 pm


Chrystal Macmillan Building, Room 2.15

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