Julie Bayley (University of Lincoln, UK)

Creating Meaningful Impact: The Essential Guide to Developing an Impact-Literate Mindset

ISBN: 978-1-80455-192-9, eISBN: 978-1-80455-189-9

Publication date: 5 April 2023


Bayley, J. (2023), "Prelims", Creating Meaningful Impact: The Essential Guide to Developing an Impact-Literate Mindset, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xxiii.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Julie Bayley

Half Title Page


Endorsement Page

Julie Bayley’s book, Creating Meaningful Impact, is an enlightening romp through the excitement, the pressures, the demands of doing impact well, both in terms of institutional success and in terms of a researcher’s personal and professional development. As book blurbs often suggest, the book is a rollercoaster, but one very much aimed at the fainthearted, who stand to learn a lot from Julie’s immense expertise, warmth, wit and superlative use of imagery. So, if you are tickled by the idea of becoming a more mindfully impactful researcher, swipe right on ‘Impact Tinder’ and read this book!

–Professor Ele Belfiore, Professor in Cultural Policy & Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity, University of Aberdeen, UK

Julie Bayley never fails to achieve impact on impact. If you are already on your journey to impact literacy this book will help you grow roots into impact healthy practices. And if you are just starting out, this book will help you sow the seeds that will grow into those roots to sustain your career of research with an impact on society. ‘Creating meaningful impact’ isn’t just the title, it is the goal that Julie achieves in this important book.

–Dr David Phipps, Assistant VP Research Strategy & Impact, York University, Canada, and Director of Research Impact Canada

There are many books available to advise researcher how to ‘do’ impact but none as accessible as this. The sheer joy and enthusiasm that Julie brings to the field shines through every word which, along with insights from other researchers and partners in the field, ensures that every reader will emerge from this book enlightened, and excited about the prospect of pursuing their own ‘societal impact’.

–Dr Gemma Derrick, Associate Professor, Research Policy & Culture, University of Bristol, UK

Title Page




University of Lincoln, UK

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

Copyright Page

Emerald Publishing Limited

Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK

First edition 2023

Copyright © 2023 Julie Bayley. Published under exclusive license by Emerald Publishing Limited.

Reprints and permissions service


No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of information contained in the text, illustrations or advertisements. The opinions expressed in these chapters are not necessarily those of the Author or the publisher.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-80455-192-9 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-80455-189-9 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-80455-191-2 (Epub)


List of Figures and Tables xi
About the author xiii
Acknowledgements xv
Contributors xvii
Introduction 1
Structure of the book 3
Part 1: Impact, Impact Literacy and Values
Chapter 1: What Is Research Impact? 9
What Impact Is 9
What Impact Isn’t 13
Types of Impact 14
Proving Impact 16
Why Do We Do Impact? 17
Impact in Funding 18
Impact in Assessment 20
Impact in Missions 22
Personal Motivation for Impact 24
The Wonderful World of Impact Terminology 25
Things That Sound Like Research Impact But Aren’t 30
Dimensions of Impact 34
Significance: How Important Is it to the Outside World? 34
Reach: How Far or Deep Is the Effect? 35
Contribution and Attribution: How Much of the Change is Down to the Research? 37
Distance and Time: Where and When Does the Impact Happen? 38
Linearity and Dependencies: How Sequenced Does it Have to Be? 39
Disciplinary Differences? Not as Such 41
Fundamental or ‘Discovery’ Research 41
Philosophical Research 42
Participatory or Engaged Research 42
Research Which Aims to Develop a Useful ‘Thing’ 42
Research in Contested, Sensitive, Taboo or Secret Areas 43
Commissioned Research 44
Research to Curate, Preserve or Order Knowledge 45
What Counts as ‘Better’ Impact? (If You Need to Pick) 45
Summary 47
What Can You Do? 48
Chapter 2: Impact Literacy 51
What Is Impact Literacy? 53
Evolution Of The Model 53
Risks Of Taking A Non-Literate Approach 56
Levels Of Literacy 58
Summary 58
What Can You Do? 60
Chapter 3: Impact, Values and Power 63
How We Present Impact Skews What We Think Counts – Big, Shiny Endpoints 63
We Don’t Talk About Failure (Or Harm) 65
Who Determines What Impact Is? 67
Pressures on People And Institutions: Labour, Visibility and Survivalism 70
Mechanising Relationships 75
Recognising Privilege 77
Towards Fairer 78
Summary 80
What Can You Do? 81
Part 2: Eight Principles for Developing an Impact-literate Mindset
Principle 1: Chase Meaning Not Unicorns 85
Are Unicorns a Problem? 88
Harnessing Unicorn Energy 89
Summary 90
What Can You Do? 91
Principle 2: Work Out What Your Research Powers Up 93
What Can Be Mobilised? 94
Who Picks Up The Baton?96
Partner Up … 98
… But Consider Breaking Up 100
Why? Be an Annoying Toddler 102
Consider How The Baton Passes…104
…Before Choosing The Method 105
Prioritising (If You Have to) 107
Summary 108
What Can You Do? 108
Principle 3: Think Directionally Not Linearly 111
Why Is Thinking Directionally Useful? 112
From ‘Problem’ to ‘Better’ 112
Step 1: Describe the Baseline – ‘What’s the Problem’? 114
Step 2: Describe the Impact Goal(s) – If That’s the Problem, What Does Better Look Like?’ 116
Summary 118
What Can You Do? 119
Principle 4: Evidence? Think ‘What Would Jessica Fletcher Do?’ 121
How do we Prove Impact? 123
Hard Proof: There Is No Doubt 124
Softer Proof: It’s Provable When Combined 125
Proxy Measures: It Indicates But Doesn’t Prove 126
Logical Proof in Uncertainty: We Can Claim If We Eliminate All Other Explanations 127
Identifying Onward Routes; Using Events as Evidence Waypoints 128
What Counts As Evidence Of Impact? 129
Summary 135
What Can You Do? 136
Principle 5: Create a Healthy Space 137
Why Is The Research Environment Important? 138
A Moment on Challenges and Resistance 140
Institutional Impact Literacy 142
Why (The Purpose) 143
What (The Policies) 144
How (The Processes) 144
Who (The People) 145
Institutional Risks of Taking a Non-Literate Approach 146
Levels of Institutional Literacy 148
Institutional Health 149
The 5Cs of Institutional Impact Health 151
Embedding an Impact Culture 154
Summary 162
What Can You Do? 163
Principle 6: Own Your Expertise But Don’t Be a Jerk 165
Summary 170
What Can You Do? 170
Principle 7: Be an Impact Lighthouse 173
What to Illuminate 174
Where and When to Shine the Light 175
Summary 181
What Can You Do? 181
Principle 8: Be You 183
Final Words 185
Frequently Asked Questions 189
Index 197

List of Figures and tables


Figure 1. What Is Impact? 11
Figure 2. Original Impact Literacy Diagram 54
Figure 3. Revised (Extended) Model of Impact Literacy 55
Figure 4. Impact as Up, Down or Steady 113
Figure 5. How We Make a Difference in Academia 157
Figure 6. Knowledge Mobilisation and Impact Competencies 160


Table 1. Levels of Individual Impact Literacy 59
Table 2. Sliding Scale of Stakeholder Energies 97
Table 3. Characterising Baseline Problems and Impact Goals 117
Table 4. Common Evidence Types and What They’re Best Suited To 131
Table 5. Levels of Institutional Impact Literacy 148
Table 6. Comparison of Healthy Versus Unhealthy Practices 153

About the Author

Julie once got lost in a bathroom. She spends her spare time belting out 80s tunes, watching cosy murder mysteries and documentaries about Alaskan Bush people. She once ordered fake designer underwear whilst on a lot of post-surgery medication.

She is also a world expert on impact.

Vicky Williams, CEO, Emerald Group

Dr Julie Bayley is an international expert on research impact and has been immersed in the world of impact as an academic and research manager for many years. She is currently the Director of Research Impact Development at the University of Lincoln (UK) and founder and Director of the Lincoln Impact Literacy Institute – the University’s strategic unit for impact – leading impact capacity building and strategy across the institution and wider university sector. She is passionate about equality and diversity within research, and is Director of Impact for the Eleanor Glanville Institute, the University of Lincoln’s Strategic Unit for Equality and Diversity.

She is a regular contributor to conferences, consultations and round tables and, since 2017, she has been commissioned as Emerald Publishing’s Impact Literacy Advisor to support their ‘Real World Impact’ programme. She sits on a number of Committees and Advisory Boards, including as Policy Lead on the British Psychology Society Division of Health Psychology Committee, and previously as both Director of Qualifications for the Association of Research Managers and Administrations (ARMA) UK, and Co-chair of the International Network of Research Management Societies (INORMS) Research Impact and Stakeholder Engagement (RISE) Working Group. She collaborates nationally and internationally on knowledge mobilisation and impact, and in 2022 was awarded the Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) Impact Innovators Award in recognition of her impact literacy work.

As well as an impact expert, she is a Chartered Health Psychologist, registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, and has been an applied researcher in behaviour change since 2003. Much of this time was spent researching sexual health, as well as healthcare staff development, public health interventions and evaluations of health and care services. Recent research has focused on improving patient-centred research, developing patient outcome measures, delivering public health evaluations and creating novel ways to review impact in funding applications and in health innovation research. Having had far too many blood clots since 2008, she is an advocate for vascular health and is a patient representative on the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM) Central Advisory Board.

Outside of work she is a semi-lapsed double bassist, cosy mystery fan and cheese lover, and her kids describe her as having an ‘adequate’ face.


As with all things in life there’s a lot of people to be acknowledged. But let’s avoid an Oscars-style speech and say a particular thanks to some key people.

To Emerald, particularly Vicky Williams the most gloriously intelligent, capable, modest and inclusive leader a company could ever want. And she knows far too many secrets about me so I couldn’t really go to another publisher. Also in Emerald, Steve Lodge for his amazing leadership of impact services, the Impact Services team for the most humbling commitment to Impact Literacy, Tony Roche for continued support and John Eggleton for constantly (yet mistakenly) assuming he’s winning our childlike bickering.

There can be no acknowledgement big enough for the sheer glory that is David Phipps. A more genuine and generous person you will struggle to find, and I will never not laugh at our collectively teaching him about ‘budgie smugglers’.

To the impact community in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, across Europe and everywhere else. There are too many of you to mention by name but you rock. Thanks for always saying yes to coffee and not rolling your eyes too much at random ideas. And to the world of research managers, you are amazing. Having seen brilliant leaders like Stephanie Maloney, Pilar Pousada Solino, Lorna Wilson and others, I’m reconciled to the fact I’ll never grow up to be like them. But when you’ve been on the sharp end of Lorna’s sweary Scottishness, the concept of grown up seems fairly far fetched anyway.

To Vicky, Jo and Kim for being absurdly brilliant women. I’m very sorry about the ongoing suite of accidental innuendos, but also upset you never consider these out of character. To Rebecca, Marla, Aileen and Sarah a long-term friendship from an opportunistic conference talk which makes me smile to this day. And to the Women in Academia Support Network, thanks for trying to keep this academic ship afloat for so many who are struggling.

To Mum. You’re completely loopy and I love you, but I refuse to play Ludo with you until you stop elbowing me in the ribs.

To Dad. You won’t read this, and you won’t understand what it’s about, and that’s fine. Just know I did it and please stop complaining about my coffee.

To those contributed to this book, more on you later you lovely lot.

And last but certainly not least to my boys – Will, James and the husband’y Phil one. Thanks for keeping me fed with amazing bread, watered with daily coffee, and grounded with phrases like no one understands mum’s job and did you kill the bird with your car or with your looks? A masterclass in family connectiveness. Love ya you weirdos.

A final thanks to anyone who’s shaped this book somehow. You might see our conversations reflected in it or you might have just sparked something which took me in a certain direction.

This book is for those we bumble along with, those we love and those we want to throw pies at. It’s a fascinating world isn’t it?

And now, tea.


There are wonderfully kind and fabulous people around, some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to have contribute to this book. A MASSIVE thanks to them for offering their energy, time, thoughts and comments, from whichever bit of the research and impact world they represent. Some of them were even willing to be seen with me in public to discuss things over coffee. Others less so but I’ll hang around until they relent. The glorious people you’ll hear from and to who I’m indebted are:

Professor Ele Belfiore is the inaugural Interdisciplinary Director for Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity at the University of Aberdeen. She has published extensively on cultural politics and policy, cultural value and the ‘social impacts’ of the arts. For Palgrave, she edits the book series New Directions in Cultural Policy Research and she is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cultural Trends. She has been committed to the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion in higher education, and a Founding Member of the Women In Academia Support Network, a trans-inclusive and intersectional charity that brings together over 13,500 members worldwide with lived experience of misogyny to facilitate gender parity and more equitable working conditions in higher education.

Dr Rebecca Brunk is a Michigander living across the pond. She is a mixed methodologist and has a background in Neuroscience and Organisational Psychology. She aims to approach every problem in academics from the angle of, how do we leverage knowledge to enact real substantial change?

Dr Gemma Derrick is an Associate Professor (Research Policy & Culture) at the Centre for Higher Education Transformations (CHET) at the University of Bristol. She relentlessly twitter-stalked Julie and her jazz hands until she was thrilled to receive an invitation to speak at one of her seminars, and did so whilst trying to look cool. What resulted was a mutual respect and love for all things impact in an embarrassing kind of you-hang-up-no-you-hang-up kind of way. Her research focusing on the dynamics of research culture in response to external and internal reward and assessment structures. She published ‘The Evaluators’ Eye: Impact Assessment and Academic Peer Review’ in 2018, and has been a Leading Commentator on assessment frameworks and peer review practices where she campaigns for more reflective processes of evaluation for a kinder research future. She is a Visiting Professor with OSIRIS at the University of Oslo, is on the Board for the HiddenREF, and has worked with funders, such as at the Research Council of Norway, The Academy of Finland and the Wellcome Trust about building better assessment practices for impact. She also hates writing her own bio.

Esther De Smet is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Research Department of Ghent University (BE), where she develops strategy and support on societal impact of research and research communication. She is also the Business Project lead for the Institutional Research Information System. She regularly leads workshops on communication strategy, impact, digital presence and social media. By now, she has become a valued member of the worldwide impact tribe, participating in working groups and projects, and presenting at conferences (e.g. INORMS, EARMA, AESIS, etc.).

Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse is an Experienced Lecturer, Facilitator and Researcher with over 15 years of experience in research, strategy development and organisation development. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to both research and teaching, drawing on artistic techniques and practices to explore, challenge and interrogate notions of responsible and shared leadership, continuing professional development, and communication and engagement. He is the Co-founder and Managing Editor for the Journal of Research Management and Administration, a Reviewer for the International Journal of Doctoral Studies and Member of Association for Research Managers’ EDI Advisory Group.

Dr Elizabeth Gadd is a Research Policy Manager at Loughborough University. She chairs the International Network of Research Management Societies (INORMS) Research Evaluation Group and Co-champions the UK Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) Research Evaluation Special Interest Group. She founded the LIS-Bibliometrics Forum and The Bibliomagician Blog which provides bibliometric advice and guidance ‘by practitioners, for practitioners’. She was the recipient of the 2020 INORMS Award for Excellence in Research Management Leadership.

Dr Tamika Heiden is the Founder and Head Inspirer of the Research Impact Academy. She previously worked in Health Research and Research Coordination for more than 15 years and for the last eight years has been Consulting to researchers, funders and research organisations across the globe. Her background in knowledge translation and research impact, along with her dedication to improving social outcomes from research, led her to develop the Research Impact Academy. Her goal and purpose is to ensure that research is relevant and accessible to the people who need it (

Dr Chris Hewson studied Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge, and took his PhD in Sociology at Lancaster University. His PhD examined the development of community radio and television services in the face of social and regulatory change. He stepped into the newly created role of Social Sciences Research Impact Manager in March 2017, having previously worked in impact support roles at the Universities of Manchester and Salford. He provides Expert Assistance to York’s Social Sciences Departments regarding all aspects of research impact, including but not limited to funding, policy engagement and the Research Excellence Framework (REF). He manages York’s Economic and Social Research Council Impact Accelerator Account. He is always keen to hear from organisations and groups interested in collaborating with the University’s social science researchers.

Helen Lau is currently the Associate Director of Knowledge Exchange at Coventry University. Having worked in research commercialisation, knowledge exchange and innovation for 17 years across roles at universities, regional development and SMEs. She is passionate about research and university innovation making a difference and changing people’s lives for the better, essentially linking research impact and Knowledge Exchange (KE) together to try and make the world a better place for everyone. She is an Institute of Directors Ambassador for Inclusion and Diversity and an Active Non-executive Director with smaller companies, spin outs and charities. She’s a full-time working Mum of two and loves sharing her passion for innovation, impact, KE and inclusivity with everyone and anyone

Dr Kellyn Lee is a BPS Chartered Psychologist, Academic and Founder of and She works with the social care sector to improve the lives of people living with a dementia and those who care for them. She also works as a Project Officer of the NIHR ENabling Resarch In Care Homes (ENRICH) project via the London School of Economics and Political Science. More details on her translation of research into practice is available at and

Dr Stephanie Maloney is Director of Research and Enterprise at the University of Lincoln and supports the institution in establishing a research and enterprise culture. She leads a department responsible for research grant support; consultancy and educational contracts, business start-up & growth; IP commercialisation; funding partnerships; research environment; ethics, governance & integrity; research data & systems; knowledge exchange and support for regional businesses. Prior to joining the University of Lincoln, she worked at the University of Birmingham and was responsible for facilitating projects between the University and industry, especially with public funding. She holds PhD in Oncology from the Cancer Research UK Centre at the University of Birmingham. External to the University, she is a Member of UKRI’s Research Organisation Consultation Group advising UKRI on all aspects of research policy, process and procedure from the research organisation perspective. She is engaged in driving forward regional innovation and growth through, for example, South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone, Greater Lincolnshire LEP (GLLEP), Lincolnshire Growth Hub, GLLEP Innovation Council and Lincoln Science & Innovation Park.

Wilfred Mijnhardt is Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. He brings over 25 years of experience in Research Policy Development and Institutional Advancement. He is passionate for universities, business schools, responsible research and education, excellence and impact. As Executive Director of Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM) (till 2014), he has been a Pioneer in organising for academic development and the impact support organisation, with special expertise on quality assurance, productivity, academic and societal impact of research and the renewal of faculty management. In his current role, his energy focuses on the strategic transition of universities and business schools towards an impact-driven mindset. Internationally, he is an Active Member in networks like RRBM, PRME, AACSB, EFMD, amongst others. He holds a bachelor degree in Economics, a master’s degree in Public Administration and a postgraduate diploma in Management of Change,

Dr David Phipps is the Administrative Lead for all research programmes and their impacts on local and global communities at York University (Toronto, Canada). He has received honours and awards from the Canadian Association of Research Administrators, Society for Research Administration International, Institute for Knowledge Mobilization, International Network of Research Management Societies and the EU-based Knowledge Economy Network. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work in knowledge mobilisation and research impact and was named the most influential knowledge mobiliser in Canada. He sits on knowledge mobilisation committees around the world and is Network Director for Research Impact Canada.

Derek Stewart is a Former Teacher treated successfully for throat cancer in 1995 by clinicians who were active in research meant he didn’t necessarily receive the ‘best evidenced based treatment’ but he still has a voice. He is a Strategic Advisor with the HRB Trials Methodology Research Network, Ireland and Hon Professor at the University of Galway.

Dr Mark Taylor, according to his last consultant’s letter, has ‘relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, a sacral nerve sheath tumour, hips tendinitis and labral tear, knee meniscal injury, shoulder adhesive capsulitis and now tentative degenerative arthritis’. He currently works part time at the National Institute for Health and Social Care (NIHR) but is a patient advocate for multiple sclerosis ( and other broader health issues (

Vicky Williams is Chief Executive Officer of the Emerald Group, which comprises Emerald Publishing and Emerald Works. She has held a variety of senior roles during her 20+ years in the publishing sector, across editorial, business development, product development, marketing, digital and HR. She is an International Advisory Board Member for the University of Bradford, and an Advisory Board Member for the University of Lincoln’s Impact Literacy Institute. She also works within the local community on Bradford’s Economic Recovery Board and is a Trustee of the Keith Howard Foundation. Both in and out of work, she is a Keen Advocate for gender diversity, having launched Emerald’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programme in 2016, and speaks widely on this topic at global forums and events.

Lorna Wilson has worked in Higher Education for just over 10 years and is currently Co-Director of Research and Innovation Services at Durham University, and Chair Elect of the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA). She is a HUGE Research Geek, with a background mainly in research development and funding. Her current role involves her leading on various areas for her institution including research development, operations, culture and strategic projects. When she’s not cheerleading research she’s a mum of two black Labradors in the Toon with her husband.

Professor Clare Wood is Professor of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University, and describes herself as a ‘research mongrel’ in as much as her work positions her across disciplines rather than within her own. She is also a ‘research magpie’, insofar as she is drawn to shiny things that bring her joy when it comes to particular projects and people. She is interested in children’s literacy development, children’s voice and rights, and the use of technology to support learning. She drinks more tea than any human bladder should actually be able to cope with and fondles yarn in her spare time. Her daughter is embarrassed by her.