When Manchester Met’s Faculty of Business & Law decided to participate in BSIS and examine our impact, we were keen to explore all facets of what impact is and where it might be found. As a concept, Impact is continually debated, and several definitions abound, showing how difficult an idea it can be to pin down, let alone provide evidence for.
For Manchester Met’s impact assessment of our whole faculty’s work (our impact scope) for our local area (our impact zone), we turned to our experience in understanding the impact of our research for guidance. The UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) requires a number of Impact Case Studies to be submitted per subject unit of assessment. For the REF, impact is 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” (https://re.ukri.org/research/ref-impact/). These case studies now form a crucial 25% of our overall ranking in this national exercise. Our university is committed to developing excellence in research impact, and so has employed Impact Managers in the central Research and Knowledge Exchange (RKE) team – they work in faculties alongside academics, to support them to create impact from their research.
Katherine Roycroft is our Impact Manager. Her role primarily involves developing and embedding impact activities in order to maximise researcher engagement with non-academic audiences and research users. Working closely with colleagues in RKE as well as the university research centres and faculties, Katherine acts as the main point of contact working with academics to identify and extend their opportunities for impact. With proven abilities in understanding, evidencing and communicating the impact of academic research, Katherine works closely with academic staff to realise and demonstrate research impact.
“Over recent years my role has increasingly grown and become more diverse as more academics and external partners begin to appreciate and value the importance of impact and how, thinking about it creatively, it can help shape their research design from the outset. I love working across different disciplines and university teams exchanging expertise, ideas and good practice with them all.
Although I am part of the Central RKE team, my work is faculty focused and it has an inter-disciplinary shape to it so I can share my experience of working across different departments, which enables me to make those important links and connections. I also work very closely with the University PR and marketing teams and building these relationships has helped me understand the most effective ways to promote and “shout out” about what we do best outside the university. I have designed and co-ordinated lots of public engagement events and so have to come up with innovative ideas around how to engage with stakeholders, policymakers and communities etc.”
We took several models of engagement from Katherine’s work in research impact to help us examine our impact in all 7 dimensions. The importance of outward presentation of our impact work, and an interdisciplinary focus helped hone our approach to BSIS and impact assessment in general. We have developed a robust action plan since our visit and final report in June 2019, where we focus on how to develop and communicate our impact further. Our BSIS impact assessment has been a huge learning experience for us, and has helped support our strategic aims going forward.
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The Business School Impact System (BSIS) scheme is designed to determine the extent of a school’s impact upon its local environment – the city or region in which it is located. The BSIS process is offered in a joint venture between EFMD Global Network and FNEGE as a service to EFMD members in any part of the world. The impact of the Business School is analysed on the basis of the following seven areas of impact: financial, educational, business development impact as well as intellectual, societal, image and impact within the regional ecosystem.