Evidencing impacts from engaged research

Gareth Davies and Richard Holliman, The Open University.

Gareth Davies and Richard Holliman, The Open University.

By Gareth Davies and Richard Holliman

One of the key areas for development in relation to our programme of culture change was the need to produce rigorous, systematic accounts of the impact of engaged research. This need was highlighted by researchers in our initial diagnostic research (Grand, Davies et al. 2015).

As a result, a seed funding scheme was introduced to share different approaches to the generation and systematic collection of evidence of the impacts from engaged research.

Here we:

  • explain our approach in rolling out the seed funding award scheme;
  • provide links to the final reports from the three funded projects; and
  • offer a summary of the key insights we can offer having hosted the scheme.

Approach to change
Our approach to the PER Catalyst seed funding scheme was informed by an earlier Open University scheme which funded projects that explored STEM approaches to engagement.

To help researchers better understand the objectives of the call for seed funding the project team ran an engaging research seed funding workshop. During the workshop researchers were given some examples of what could be funded by the scheme.

Running an seed funding call
Drawing on work led by Helen Featherstone, and in keeping with the funds on offer, we kept the application process simple.

Application forms required an ‘elevator pitch’ (up to 600 words) covering the aims and objectives, how these could be achieved, with whom, what made the researcher/research-team ideal for achieving this and how outcomes would be shared with other researchers (see below for the forms). In addition, applicants were required to provide a breakdown and justification of the costs of carrying out the proposed research.

We used the following documents in running our seed funding call for projects. These documents are made available for re-use and adaption under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence.

Application form


Assessment Criteria

NCCPE-produced Resource: Embedding Impact Analysis in Research

The funded projects
Of the 10 applications that were submitted we could afford to fund the top three. We supported each of the projects over the course of their duration. Links to the final reports are listed below and as sub-pages to this page.

  • Hartnett, E. and Clough, G. (2015). ‘Evaluating ways of capturing engagement processes.’ Engaging Research Blog. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Available from: https://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/per/?p=5851
  • Oates, J., Mengoni, S. and Bardsley, J. (2015). ‘Engaging publics in developing key working for families with children and young people with SEND.’ Engaging Research Blog. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Available from: https://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/per/?p=5849
  • Rothero, E., Davies, G. and McGinlay, J. (2015). ‘Assessing the impact of advice given to site managers for the management of floodplain meadows’. Engaging Research Blog. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Available from: https://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/per/?p=5843

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