As researchers, we aspire to making a contribution, however small, to enriching our world with evidence and insight. But it can be hard to unpick the impacts that research has had, and even more challenging to demonstrate those impacts with robust evidence.  
  • This webinar was held and recorded live on 28 January 2021
  • You can watch the video below

About this webinar

In this live webinar, Matter of Focus co-director and University of Edinburgh Honorary Fellow Dr Sarah Morton explored some of the challenges of understanding and assessing research impact, especially where research is used in influencing, inspiring and educating people, and where issues of cause and effect are more complex.

Sarah has developed a pioneering approach to understanding research impact, based on contribution analysis. This has been applied in seven independent impact assessments, to help people with REF impact case studies, and is the basis for the approach and software developed by Matter of Focus. In the webinar Sarah shares the approach and some of the lessons learned from carrying out impact assessments on different topics and parts of the world.

Who will find this webinar of interest?

  • Anyone carrying our research with the view to influencing, inspiring and educating people, and where issues of cause and effect are more complex.
  • Research leaders that want to be able to inspire others to work in impactful ways.
  • Leaders or administrators of research centres or evidence to action teams that want to meaningfully track their impact.
  • Researchers or teams concerned with getting evidence into action in the public and third sectors.

An international leader in research impact

Sarah has been working on evidence to action for 19 years. She is internationally recognised for developing innovative approaches to ensure decision-makers have access to the best evidence for taking organisations, policies, and practices forward.

Sarah pioneered a participatory approach using contribution analysis to understand impact, and this is the basis of our approach here at Matter of Focus. Cutting her knowledge exchange (KE) teeth at the pioneering Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Sarah broadened understanding of the interaction between research, policy and practice through research and practice work with UNICEF, What Work Scotland and others, and worked alongside organisations to use evidence for improving services for the families and communities they serve (with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Starcatchers, The Scottish Book Trust, Shelter Scotland and others).  

Sarah developed a research impact assessment framework based on contribution analysis and has used it to carry out seven independent impact assessments, including 14 case studies, of research centres and initiatives across eight countries around the world. 
Sarah’s background is in social sciences and participation with a degree in Sociology, Masters in Community Education and Social Policy by Research, and a PhD in Social Policy. Prior to KE work she held networking, policy development and research roles in the voluntary sector and spent ten years tutoring adult learners in community settings and with the Open University. She worked in KE at the University of Edinburgh from 2001-2017, and remains an Honorary Fellow of the University.

Text reads: The Matter of Focus Research Impact School Module 1

If you want to develop your understanding of research impact in even greater depth, take a look at our Research Impact School training. Module 1 is next running this June.

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