How to fast track your impacts

Cindy Forbes reflects on the GetAMoveOn Impacts Workshop and reveals some key tips for becoming a productive and impactful researcher in just 37 hours a week!

Once again the Fellows convened at UCL with other GAMO award recipients to learn from Prof Mark Reed from Fast Track Impact about making an impact with our research. Award winning Mark has written books on research impact and productivity, has been cited more than 13,000 times, and has trained more than 4000 individuals in over 200 institutions in 55 countries! We were in for a great day!

“Why do you do research?”
According to Mark, one of the most important steps to being a productive and impactful researcher is to figure out why we do what we do. Feeling passionate and excited about a topic, project, thing, always seems to make it easier and more fun to do! So we started the day off examining our values and trying to get to the heart of why we are researchers, or lecturers, in our respective fields of interest. Not so simple, it turns out.

A stand-out statement was “Take out impact and replace with benefit. Look for the value and meaning for people. If it’s not apparent now, when will it be?”

Types of Impact
We continued our day identifying different types of impact (i.e. environmental, cultural, social, policy, understanding, etc.) that could exist in our work. It is a good exercise to think of the types of impact you want to have and always best to go for multiple impact goals. We talked about how to evaluate impact by examining the significance and reach of our work. Mark gave us some helpful tools to identify the people who are most interested and most influential to help us meet our impact goals.

REF 2021 Impact
Next, we talked specifically about demonstrating impact in regards to REF. The proportionate importance of impact has increased, knowing how all the things we do can contribute to this was a very useful conversation. Again, it all came down to what the ultimate benefit was; telling people your findings is not enough, we must demonstrate the pathway to benefit (i.e. impact).

As in anything, Mark reminded us of how exceptionally important it is to keep track of everything we have done! Whatever organisational strategy works for you, use it!

The Digital Academic
Finally, we ended the day with a chat about social media as an academic. While useful, Mark assured us we don’t have to be tweeting up a storm to make it work to our advantage. Strategically sign-posting and targeting key influencers are good ways to increase visibility with minimal time.

In the end, we walked away with very valuable tools to help us understand impact and most importantly, ourselves. Mark works 37 hours per week on average and rarely on weekends, so he clearly has something figured out.

Thank you to Mark and the GAMO Network for a great day!

Cindy is a GetAMoveOn Network+ Fellow and a Yorkshire Cancer Research Career Development Fellow at Hull York Medical School. She is researching how to get people more active using wearable tech and computer tailored programmes. Find out more about Cindy’s work here and follow Cindy on twitter @cindycforbes