Research & Innovation Services


Planning for impact as part of your research is important because:

  • it helps you identify who you could be working with to enhance your research (for example to gain access to data, equipment)
  • it helps you access funding that is available to do dissemination and engagement activities (which you may be trying to currently do on a shoe-string)
  • it helps promote your research
  • it helps you comply with the funders requirements for the Impact Summary and Pathways to Impact plans (UK Research Councils and the European Commission)
  • it will help you to report on your outcomes, which is required by Research Councils as a condition of the funding
  • it will help you report on any impacts achieved.

The risks of not planning for impact

  • A similarly excellent research proposal could be funded over yours because the Pathways to Impact plan is better.
  • Bids have been returned (post peer review) to have their Pathways to Impact plan rewritten. However, it is then too late to request any resources to support this section.

This toolkit is designed to help you plan for impact. Working through it will help you to write your Impact Summary and Pathways to Impact plan.  

Things to note

  • Money is available for activities if you justify the costs.
  • It’s not all down to you. You can cost in expert help i.e. project support, admin support, event organisers.
  • You are not expected to achieve impact within your project but you are expected to take steps along the pathway to achieving impact.
  • You need to capture the results of your activities throughout your project and this will help you report on outcomes and future impacts.
  • You may already be doing some of the activities that could be incorporated into your plan.
  • As with your research project, your Pathways to Impact may need to change during your project. This should be possible as long as you can justify any changes.

What the Research Councils (RCUK) say

The Research Councils do not expect applicants to be able to predict the impact of their research. The purpose of Pathways to Impact is to encourage applicants to explore, from the outset, who could potentially benefit from their work in the longer term, and consider what could be done to increase the chances of their research reaching those beneficiaries.

The primary criterion for funding from the Research Councils remains excellent research. Beyond that there are a number of other considerations taken into account, of which Pathways to Impact are one. This means that when you have two equally excellent proposals, a good Pathways to Impact could make a difference to the funding process.


If you have any questions about the toolkit please contact Alice Hovanessian.