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Research Support for Staff and Students

What is Impact?

Part of the REF involves measuring the impact of your research as a case study

This is defined as the effect your research has on the economy, society, culture, public policy, health, the environment or quality of life outside of academia. Think about the significance and the reach of your research; it may have a significant effect on a small or local scale, which may then reach a wider audience.

You collect evidence of impact in the lead up to the REF to build your case study - which may be on a Unit or institutional level. You may also wish to continue collecting evidence of impact from research you submitted to the previous REF. You can also collect impact for other reasons outside of REF.

The Research Service can help you with ensuring your research is Open Access and REF eligible. Symplectic has provision for you to capture and annotate your impact and connect with your colleagues. For more information, see our online guide or contact us.

Impact varies by subject area and the nature of your research; for specific support please contact your Director of Research. 

Evidence the impact of your research in Symplectic


Altmetrics are alternative metrics - rather than the traditional bibliometrics that measure your citation counts and journal impact factors that you may be used to.

Altmetrics measure the 'mentions' of your research (anything with a DOI), through social media, blogs, news reports and websites. They can be a powerful tool in helping you disseminate your research beyond the academic sphere, providing results as soon as your research is published and allowing you to ensure it is represented and interpreted accurately. 

There are several tools you can use to check your alternative metrics; Impact Story, Kudos, Plum Analytics and Altmetric.We use Altmetric as it integrates with Symplectic and our repository - you may have seen the coloured 'donut' icon next to your article which indicates the Altmetric score for each output:

You can see your donuts on Symplectic or next to each record in the repository. Each coloured strand represents a different type of 'mention' and Altmetric calculates an overall score, giving more weight to news reports and adjusting for duplication. Clicking on the donut will take you to a detailed page where you can see each of these mentions and where they originate. This enables you to monitor how your research is disseminated.

The Research Service capture monthly statistics including repository downloads. We provide support with altmetrics and using social media to effectively disseminate your research - please contact us if you would like any guidance.

Contact us

0113 812 4731

REF case studies

For the next REF in 2021 you may need to demonstrate the impact of your research using a case study. We have not yet been advised of the final details or what form these case studies will take.

For the previous REF in 2014, case studies were described as:

An impact case study is a four-page document, describing the impact of research undertaken within the submitting department. It also contains information about the research that underpins the impact that took place.

You may wish to consult the 2014 REF case studies database and regulations:

View the 2014 REF case studies by submitting institution or Unit of Assessment

View the 2014 REF case studies FAQs

View the copyright and licenses for the 2014 REF case studies

For advice, please contact your Director of Research.