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Research Impact Statement

What is research impact?

Research impact is the effect research has beyond academia. The University of Cumbria utilises the UKRI definition of research impact as being 'the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy’. This can involve academic impact, economic and societal impact or both:

  • Academic impactis the demonstrable contribution that excellent social and economic research makes in shifting understanding and advancing scientific, method, theory and application across and within disciplines
  • Economic and societal impactis the demonstrable contribution that excellent social and economic research makes to society and the economy, and its benefits to individuals, organisations and/or nations.  

The institution also utilises the Research Excellence Framework definition of impact, which includes the effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia. Impact includes, but is not limited to, an effect on, change or benefit to:

  • the activity, attitude, awareness, behaviour, capacity, opportunity, performance, policy, practice, process or understanding;
  • of an audience, beneficiary, community, constituency, organisation or individuals;
  • in any geographic location whether locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.
  • Impact includes the reduction or prevention of harm, risk, cost or other negative effects

When considering the level of impact of your research it can be helpful to consider the below:

  • Degree of change – how much did someone change?
  • Significance of impact - how much difference did it make to someone’s life?
  • Scale of impact - how many people did it reach?

When considering the evidence of impact, you can draw on indicators related to the following:

  • Understanding and awareness
  • Attitudinal
  • Environmental
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Policy
  • Decision making and behavioural change
  • Cultural
  • Societal
  • Capacity or preparedness

What is not impact?

It can sometimes be hard to distinguish the difference between the route or pathway to impact (typically dissemination such as conference, or engagement such as citations) and actual impact in the real world. Researchers cannot typically deliver ‘impact’ – the research has to prompt practitioners or organisations to take action that delivers benefit to a beneficiary, economy or institution. For example: giving a presentation to practitioners or running an event or exhibition is not impact. It would become impact if the people or organisation involved somehow do, experience or understand differently as a result of their interaction with the research.   

Examples of our research impact can be seen below in our REF2014 Impact Case Studies.

Recent Impact News

Recent Research News

Male Domestic Abuse

Dr Liz Bates from the university’s psychology department is among those listed for pioneering research which investigated the prevalence of male domestic abuse, revealing that the extent of abuse was far greater than previously thought and that victims were reluctant to ask for help. The list compiled by Universities UK, the umbrella group for UK universities, is part of the ‘MadeAtUni’ campaign. The aim is to change public perceptions of universities and bring to life the difference they make to people, lives and communities across the UK.

South Cumbria Species Reintroduction Project

Back on our Map (BOOM) has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has seen the recruitment of a small team of biologists at the University of Cumbria to work with partners including the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Forestry Commission to investigate possible sites where the natural history clock could be reset. The project is led by Professor Ian Convery working with four researchers considering different aspects of potential wildlife introductions. A number of consultations events have run across South Cumbria and North Lancashire around Morecambe Bay.

Active Ageing

Within our Active Ageing Group Dr Lawrence Hayes is hosting a special topic for the journal Frontiers in Physiology entitled Exercise as a countermeasure to human ageing based on the group’s international research reputation on ageing.

Arts Research

Based on her research the University of Cumbria fine art programme leader film maker Jane Topping was invited to take part in a prestigious Scottish summer arts residency. The residency was fresh from winning ‘best short film’ at the Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival in New York.

Foetal Facial Recognition

Dr Tim Donovan’s collaborative research work was listed as among most important discoveries of 2017. The Research which examined the visual perception of babies in the womb was carried out at the University of Cumbria ultrasound laboratory in Lancaster and Blackpool Victoria Hospital. The researchers use a light source to project a pattern of three dots in the shape of eyes and a mouth through the uterine wall. By measuring the way the foetus responded using ultrasound, researchers found that foetuses at 34 weeks are like new-born babies in preferring face-like stimuli. Discovery Magazine included the project at number 83 in the publication’s list of 100 discoveries made last year.  

“This was fascinating work to be involved in and resulted in a significant level of interest in this country and around the world,” Dr Tim Donovan, associate professor in medical and sports science at the University of Cumbria said. 

REF 2014

REF 2014 Results

The University of Cumbria’s results in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) show both a considerable increase in our ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ research, and that our focus on applied and practitioner research (much of it in collaboration with local, regional and international partners) produces high quality and significant impact.

The submissions made reflected our focus on research that is of value to the public, policy makers, practitioners and businesses. We were able to demonstrate substantial impact, bringing benefits to a range of stakeholders, including students and the broader knowledge economy.

Across six units of assessment submitted, 80% was considered to be of a standard recognised internationally or higher. This includes 33% internationally excellent or higher, and 7% of our research graded as world leading.

Read more about the university's REF results here.

Key REF 2014 Highlights

Key REF Highlights

  • 94% of the Allied Health Professions submission was deemed to be of internationally recognised quality or higher, with a grade point average that has more than tripled from RAE2008.
  • 69% of the Environmental Sciences submission was deemed to be of internationally recognised quality or higher.
  • Business achieved a strong ranking in the Times Higher Education at 79 out of 101 entries, and 85% of the submission at internationally recognised quality or higher.
  • 94% of research outputs in Education are of internationally recognised quality or higher.
  • Sport and Exercise Sciences produced a strong result in their first submission to the national quality assessment, exceeding the national average within the unit for percentage of research outputs of world leading quality. A third of the outputs were world leading or internationally excellent, with 78% internationally recognised quality or higher.
  • Practice based research submitted to Art and Design scored well, with particular success in research impact, achieving 44th place for impact for this unit of assessment in the Times Higher Education ranking. 90% of the impact was deemed to be very considerable or outstanding in terms of its reach and significance.

Read our impact case studies submitted to REF2014

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