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What is research impact?

The Australian Research Council defines research impact in the following way:

“The demonstrable contribution that research makes to the economy, society, culture, national security, public policy or services, health, the environment, or quality of life, beyond contributions to academia” (Australian Research Council 2015).

Can research impact be measured?

Traditionally, research impact has been measured using bibliometrics. Bibliometric measures are based on the number of author citations over a period of time. There are several online tools and databases that provide these measures.

Nowadays, other non-traditional measures are becoming more prominent. These include altmetrics or the measuring of impact through social media, and qualitative measures such as the broader impact research has had on society.

How is research impact used?

Institutions use research impact measures, including bibliometrics, to show their research contribution. Funding bodies may use impact measures when assessing grant applications. Individuals can be assessed by their research impact in situations such as recruitment, promotion and grant applications.


Watch the video below to find out more about the broader context of research impact and why it’s important.

Research impact (2:08 min) by the University of Leicester (YouTube)



Australian Research Council 2015, Definition of research impact, ARC, <https://www.arc.gov.au/policies-strategies/strategy/research-impact-principles-framework#-strong-the-definition-of-research-impact-strong-nbsp->

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