Pathways to Impact: FAQs
Do reviewers really read the Pathways to Impact?
Yes they do. Peer reviewers are asked to comment on the Pathways to Impact document, and the panel will talk about impact as part of their discussion.
Does it make a difference?
Feedback from peer reviewers and panel members confirms that the Pathways to Impact will be taken seriously when deciding where funding will be allocated. There have been increasingly frequent instances of proposals being sent back to authors and funding being withheld until the Pathways to Impact statement has been brought up to an acceptable standard. Where a number of proposals of equal merit are before a panel, the Pathways to Impact is one of a number of criteria used to decide between them.
Indirectly, a well thought out Pathways to Impact closely embedded in the research proposal can reflect well on the thought and care the Principal Investigator has put into the proposal as a whole. Similarly, a sloppy, vague or clearly cut-and-pasted Pathways to Impact can undermine the overall impression the proposal makes on reviewers.
Finally, thinking about the potential beneficiaries of your research at an early stage can influence the design of your research to maximise its reach and significance.
Will I be judged on the accuracy of my Impact Summary?
No. You are not expected to accurately predict the impact of research that hasn’t taken place yet. But the reviewers will consider if you have identified all the potential beneficiaries of your research.
What should be covered in the Pathways to Impact document?
You are expected to describe the reasonable steps that you will undertake, during the project, to maximise the likelihood of the research having impact.
What kind of impact activities are there?
The impact activities should be designed according to your research and stakeholders - see some example impact activities.
Should I include academic impact?
No. Academic impact should be described in the Academic Beneficiaries section of the proposal and not repeated here. The only exception is in situations where your research will be used by other disciplines or fields to deliver external impact. In this case, you should outline the activities you are planning to bring your work to the attention of these other disciplines. You will need to clearly establish the link between your research and the end impact.
Should I include impact that happens outside the UK?
Yes - all impact is important. You should include details of all potential beneficiaries and the activities you are planning to help them benefit, no matter where in the world they are.
Does the EPSRC panel give priority to impact in the UK?
The EPSRC have clearly said 'All impact is taken into consideration regardless of where it lies'. Impact and national importance may overlap but there is no requirement for impact beneficiaries to be in the UK.
Can I request money to fund the activities in my Pathways to Impact?
Yes. Applicants are encouraged to request reasonable funds for appropriate impact activities.
How much money can I request for impact activities?
There is no upper or lower limit for resources requested for impact activities, but all requests should be reasonable and appropriate for the activities being proposed.
Who should I contact for help?
See the list of useful contacts.
My research has no impact outside academia. What should I do?
It is very rare that research has no impact at all. You are strongly advised to think broadly about organisations or groups who might have an interest in your research. Have a look at these suggested activities to see whether any of these could be suitable for your project.
You could consider whether your project is suitable for any kind of public engagement or whether members of your research team will be gaining skills to boost their future employability (above and beyond the experience all researchers gain from working on a research project).
You could also think about whether your research will deliver impact through another academic discipline or field of research. If so, then you can show how you will bring your research to the attention of colleagues within this discipline to try and make sure this indirect impact happens. This is the only time that academic impact should be included in your Pathways to Impact.
However, should you conclude that there is no impact outside academia you are allowed to state this in the Impact Summary, but you must give a clear, concise explanation as to why you don’t think there will be any external impact.