Since the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 ‘impact’ is now an additional factor applied in assessing the quality of research. Impact is the difference that research makes to one or more key areas of society. It is the change that research activity brings to society, and changing policy is one of several types of impact.
There are many measures used to determine how much impact research has had with policy influence being one such measure. This has led to a significant drive towards engaging with policy-makers as a route to developing research impact.
But how can academics engage in the policy process?
Sarah Foxon, has written an excellent blog outlining nine ways you can get your research into parliament. The blog is summarized is this visual:
To read the full blog, please see: 9 ways research gets into parliament
Note that simply presenting research results to policymakers and expecting them to put the evidence into practice is not going to be very successful. Policy processes are inherently complex with the involvement of many different actors and stakeholders.
There is no definitive plan for successful policy impact. Success will however be more likely if you:
- focus on current policy problems and ensure your research has clear objectives;
- engage with policymakers throughout the research process, from identifying the problem, undertaking the research itself and drawing out recommendations for policy and practice from the results;
- understand the political factors which may enhance or impede uptake and develop appropriate strategies to address them;
- invest in communication and engagement activities, and build strong relationships with key stakeholders.
Furthermore, the Policy@Sussex team is able to support you to help you. If you think your social science research has policy implications and you seek to influence policy-makers, please get in touch with us: https://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/policy-engagement/contact-us/
 HEFCE’s definition for the REF: For the purposes of the REF impact is defined as “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life beyond academia”.