Research without engagement is only going to go so far. To achieve maximum visibility and impact, research must have more than a sole academic purpose. Research and evidence are beneficial to the economy, society, environment and the future. But there is a clear missing link between research and wider, public engagement. So how to engage, and create impact?
- Plan, Report, Assess, Promote
These are the necessary steps to maximise research impact. Planning at the beginning, including identifying methodologies for data collection, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E), sets a clear pathway for effective research. Organising appropriate approaches for reporting means working with a level of flexibility and understanding of what ‘impact’ means within your project. This can enable inclusion of multidisciplinary teams for collaborative research.
- Short and action-orientated
Make your content easy to read and practical. Organise your findings in a short format that defines the problem and identifies solutions. These aspects ensure that when decision makers are presented with the research, they can quickly identify practical solutions and apply them right away.
- Understand your audience
Before anything else, make sure you understand your audience. You want your research to have an impact, but if you don’t identify what the audience really wants, it will be difficult to achieve impact. Take the time to ask potential audiences what they want to know, and how they will use the results. This maximises your impact as you’ll be providing an answer to their needs.
- Make sure your work is visible
Using a one-way communication approach can stagnate impact. Take a multi-directional approach by developing multiple outputs in different mediums. Also be strategic in choosing how you want to disseminate your learnings – how and where does your desired audience find information?
- Complete the full research cycle
The full research cycle can be long and expensive, but completing it is going to have the most impact. After dissemination of your findings, focus on how it is going to influence practice and policy. Be around to contribute to these discussions and reviews. These interactions are going to strengthen relationships with policymakers, and ensure research stays relevant.
- Fill the evidence gap
There is an identifiable gap between vulnerable groups and people, and evidence. In research, minority groups can be neglected and further marginalised. Fill these gaps through an interdisciplinary and inclusive approach. Creates partnerships for these communities to share their experiences. These interactions create an invaluable source and foundation for future involvement.
- Research Impact Principles and Framework (5 mins, blog)
- If a Report is Published and No One Reads It, Did It Really Happen? (5 min, blog)
- Is it time to ban the term dissemination? (5 min, blog)
- Latin American Evidence Week – 10 Emerging Lessons (10 min, blog)