What is Research Impact?

Research impact, as defined by the Australian Research Council:

"The contribution that research makes to the economy, society, environment or culture, beyond the contribution to academic research."

Scholarly Metrics vs Research Impact

The terms 'metrics' and 'impact' are often used together and sometimes interchangeably. There can be some crossover, it is important to understand the distinction between the two concepts.

Impact relates to the benefits/changes in society that result from research; while scholarly metrics relate to research outputs that communicate the findings of research.

Planning your research impact - how your research has made a difference in the world, and to whom, and why it matters - is crucial.

You can also measure citation performance and engagement with your research by using metrics tools.

Why Is Assessing Impact Important?
  • Western Sydney University's Strategic Plan states we will "deliver positive impact for, and with, our communities and partners through social, economic, cultural and place-based transformations".
  • Demonstrating the impact of your research can raise your profile and lead to increased funding and collaborative opportunities.

Having a clear focus on impact from the beginning of a research project helps bring clarity to the project's objectives and provides a way to ensure that the research has a positive influence.

However, impact is complex and is not always easily quantified. Impact can be immediate or long term and is often the result of accumulated knowledge and not a specific research finding. While the impact of some research is apparent straight away, in other cases, it can take years or even decades for impact to become evident.