Pathway to Impact
Developing your Pathway to Impact. How to write a good application statement
How we define impact and what you can do to achieve it.
We all know the proverb ”All roads lead to Rome”. The meaning of the proverb is of course that there are MANY ways to achieve a given result – not literally, that you will achieve your results even if your walk around with no direction at all. If you want to go to Rome you actually have to plan HOW you will get there.
As research support officers we want to support researchers in getting to Rome, and help the researcher achieving the potential impacts of the research project. The researcher needs to plan the steps that will make reaching the desired impacts possible.
This section helps you to understand how to develop pathways to impact and lists tools to help in the process.
Below we have assembled a set of tools and articles that can help you ask some of the fundamental questions, which should be answered to increase the likelihood that the projects expected impacts are realized. Some of the tools cover the whole “pathway to impact”. whereas others go into more details with specific elements along the way.
Tools - General Questions and templates to get you started
Impact planning toolkit (University of Sheffield)
This toolkit has been developed around five questions to help researchers understand their potential impact, consider new and existing stakeholders and get the most out of their engagement activities.
Pathway to impact builder
Fasttrackimpact® provides 10 questions and your answers will turn into a draft Impact Summary and Pathway to Impact in a Word document you can edit, ready for submission in your application. This has been developed for funding applications to UKRI, but will provide a useful basis for the impact sections of applications to other funders.
Research to impact canvas (Kids Brain Health Network)
- This one page tool assists in planning research, knowledge translation and commercialization activities. Research to Impact Canvas (empty, editable version):
This one page tool assists in planning research, knowledge translation and commercialization activities.
- Research to Impact Canvas (editable version):
Stakeholders in research (University of Sheffield)
Engaging stakeholders – Action Catalogue
The Action catalogue is an online decision support tool that is intended to enable researchers, policy-makers and others wanting to conduct inclusive research, to find the method best suited for their specific project needs.
Making a convincing plan
Theory of Change
TOC maps out your initiative through 6 stages:
- Identifying long-term goals
- Backwards mapping and connecting the preconditions or requirements necessary to achieve that goal and explaining why these preconditions are necessary and sufficient.
- Identifying your basic assumptions about the context.
- Identifying the interventions that your initiative will perform to create your desired change.
- Developing indicators to measure your outcomes to assess the performance of your initiative.
- Writing a narrative to explain the logic of your initiative.
Links covering more than one tool
ACCOMPLISH. Guide to Impact Planning. Feb 2019
Tools for Impact
Identifying stakeholders that can affect the impact of your project
When you have identified the expected impact of the project, you should consider WHO could affect the impact – either facilitate or obstruct it. A list of (non-exhaustive) questions could be:
- Who do you need to listen to?
- Who do you need to engage with in your activities, throughout the project?
- Who do will ultimately benefit from your project/results?
- Who should use your results?
- How can the different stakeholders benefit from the project? What are their interests in it?
- What type/degree of change you need to see from your different stakeholders in order for them to contribute to the projects impact?
HOW and WHEN to engage with the different stakeholders?
When it is clear what type of change you need from the different stakeholders, you should try to find the most optimal way to involve them.
- How will you reach the stakeholders?
- Through which activities/measures?
- When will you do it? Before, during or after the project?
- Which knowledge do they need to change (their attitude, conviction, behavior etc.)
- What level of engagement is required?
Is your "pathway to impact" coherent and convincing?
To be convincing your plan should include suitable indicators and milestones that can help measure the extent to which the project contributes to the expected impact.
You can also put your activities, output and impacts into models (logic intervention models), helping you to identify the assumptions behind your pathways to impact.