9 Research Impact Things

Tracking and demonstrating research impact

Tracking your research impact as you work towards your goals is vital in determining the effectiveness of the strategies you have employed. There is no formula to demonstrating engagement as measurements of success vary between projects. How you will ultimately demonstrate engagement is something worth considering whilst identifying your goals in the early stages of your project. Considerations include: determining what evidence needs to be kept to support your impact claim, appropriate benchmarks, measurements or metrics, and tools that can be used to measure or track engagement.

Getting started

Consider your impact goals and what could possibly demonstrate you have successfully reached your goals. Are there any metrics that could be used to quantitatively measure your research impact throughout your research in a way that indicates progress toward your goals? Are there other qualitative measures that you can identify specific to your research project, perhaps relating to your research end-users and specifics of your research objectives?

  1. Look at this list of examples of health, economic, social and knowledge impact from NHMRC (scroll down to the Types of impact section to see examples) to get an idea of some indicators and take a look at 7 steps to effective impact measurement to get some ideas on approaches.

  2. Check out 5 Tips for raising research data impact by the Digital Curation Centre to get an introduction to the metrics available to track and measure the impact of research data.

  3. Take a look at the Fireballs in the Sky project website. How does the project demonstrate impact through the website?

    • The number of PHD projects, number of apps downloads, and sightings reported are examples of evidence used to support the uptake and success of this citizen science project.

Learn more

You will likely need to employ some systems for retaining evidence of, and for the tracking of engagement. Which fit best, and your overall approach, will depend on the nature of your research and your goals.

  1. Use the Curtin Research EI Toolkit Impact Tracker [XLSX, 18kB] to map out how well you are progressing toward your goals using indicators to track your progress.
    • Keep track of impact evidence related to knowledge exchange activities, such as training workshops attendance, testimonials from attendees, collaborators and beneficiaries, co-creation activities and outcomes, and advice provided to government agencies that led to policy changes.
    • Also consider using the Engagement Tracker [XLSX, 17kB].
  2. Altmetric Explorer is a platform available to everyone at Curtin that will allow you to track online attention received by your published scholarly works. Watch a brief introduction to Altmetrics.

Will need to register here with your Curtin email address before accessing Altmetric Explorer.

Using Altmetric Explorer you can:

  • See if output based on your research has been mentioned in patents or policy documents.
  • Look at output that has a high attention score and see what kind of mentions it has received. Are they positive or negative? Have they received attention but not necessarily made an impact?
  • Analyse which research end-users you have reached through these mentions. What audiences would have been reached through the different media? What regions of the world has your work reached?

Explore in depth

This section explores further methods of keeping track of and demonstrating engagement. There is no one-size-fits-all solution so you need to explore your options based on your impact goals.

  1. If you use social media to promote your works and engage with your audience you may want to adopt social media analytics tools to help you evaluate your engagement effort. Check out the blog post “The best free and paid social media analytics tools” by Brandwatch.

  2. If your impact goal is to publish a book it might be difficult to track impact evidence. You can consider analysing book reviews, Amazon or Good Reads rating and reviews, blog mentions, library holdings, and book sales and rankings.

  3. If your research impact goals include developing open source materials and applications, or if your target audience are software developers or practitioners, consider sharing your project on GitHub, to enable open discussions and collaboration on your projects. The transparent discussions and contributions recorded on GitHub are evidence of engagement and co-creation.