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Research Excellence Framework (REF) impact toolkit


Written by Helen Tilley, Caroline Cassidy


There are ever-increasing demands upon researchers to define and demonstrate impact in order to secure funding for research. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. In 2014, for the first time, it took into account the ‘reach and significance of impacts on the economy, society and/or culture’. 

This toolkit provides a simple step-by-step approach to help researchers plan for, monitor and improve the impact their research has on policy and practice. Split into six modules, the guide helps researchers better understand their impact pathways and develop a suite of indicators they can use to monitor the impact of their research project.

Key points:

  • Start thinking about impact and how you will measure it at the start of the research
  • Your role in achieving impact may not be straightforward
  • Assessing the context is important when considering impact

ODI's Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme has worked for over 15 years to understand how to foster sustainable policy impact with research. They offer REF impact training to help UK and international universities maximise, monitor and communicate research impact. More information can be found here.

Helen Tilley, Louise Ball and Caroline Cassidy