City Research influences and inspires
  1. Research impact
  2. Statistics and facts
  3. Research areas and groups
  4. City's research strategy
  5. Research integrity
  6. Ethics
  7. Images of Research 2020 Competition
  8. City Doctoral College
    1. Case studies
    2. REF results

Research impact – City research that changes the world

At City our focus is on fostering innovative and world-leading research that is acknowledged for its impact in the real world. Our research creates value for our economy, our local community, wider society and our environment. Now, building on the improvements in research impact achieved for Research Excellence Framework (REF)2014, City is looking towards REF 2021 and beyond.

What is research impact, and why does it matter?

Simply put, research impact shows the contribution that research makes to the world beyond education.

For REF2021, it’s 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.”

Research impact matters because it:

  • helps to guarantee that investment in research activities and projects is properly accounted for and its benefits understood.
  • helps researchers to improve their research by encouraging them to involve a broad range of potential beneficiaries.
  • helps the UK to attract further research and innovation investment.
  • helps to maximise the potential benefits of the original research.

City research has real life impact

City Research is impacting lives around the world

City academics are addressing the most pressing challenges that communities worldwide face today, with research that covers areas such as mental health and wellbeing, finance and banking, politics, engineering and the environment.

Our impact case studies show how research from City has been adopted and put to use beyond the university. Our research addresses real-world concerns and so helps to solve problems, inspire change, or reduce or prevent harm, cost or other negative effects to society.

City submitted 49 impact case studies to REF2014 and aims to submit even more to REF2021. Our aim is to achieve at least 40% of overall submission at world-leading (4*) standard.

Discover our impact case studies

Designing research that makes a difference

Research impact is measured from the perspective of the intended beneficiary – which could be a community, organisation or individuals, anywhere in the world.

So when developing and undertaking their projects, our researchers need to:

  • Identify the audience. Who will benefit from this research? What are the audience’s needs or expectations? How will this research improve their lives?
  • Identify communications routes. What is the best way to influence this audience and initiate dialogue? What are the appropriate communication channels (eg press, user groups, conferences)?
  • Make the research accessible and understandable. How will the beneficiaries access the research output? How can it reach a wider audience? What mechanisms are best employed to deliver what they need? What are the barriers to the dissemination of the information or acting upon it?
  • Define measurement and gather evidence of benefit. How can any resulting change or benefit be measured? How is the research being used? What events or activities have taken place? Are there letters, articles, testimonials, statistics, reports that demonstrate its impact?

After the research is complete, its impact is evaluated against two key criteria:

Significance – the extent to which the research has enriched, influenced, informed or changed policies, practices, products, opportunities or perceptions of individuals, communities or organisations.

Reach – the extent and diversity of the communities, environments, individuals, organisations or any other beneficiaries that can be shown to have benefited from the research.

REF2021’s expert panels will grade research impact from 4* to unclassified, where 4* is considered world-leading and 3* is internationally excellent.