What makes a good application for an Impact Award? Q&A with Fiona Goff

The deadline for the NERC 2018 Impact Awards is fast approaching (noon on 21 May 2018) so we spoke to NERC’s Head of Evidence Fiona Goff to find out what makes a great application. 

What are the impact awards?

The impact awards are about celebrating NERC-funded researchers and their colleagues in research user organisations whose work has had substantial impact on the economy and society either in the UK or abroad.

We’ll be presenting the awards at a high profile ceremony later this year. There’s more information on the website.

Are applications time consuming?

Hopefully not: the case study section has a 4 page limit, and is mostly in the same format as the REF case study template (so doing an application now might save you time when it comes to the REF!)

What does NERC look for in an impact story?

We’ve found that the most convincing impact case studies provide clear evidence of three things:

  • Beneficiaries: the people or organisations who benefitted from the impact (e.g. business, government, third sector organisation, or wider society);
  • Benefit: a beneficial impact outcome, that has already taken place (rather than potential impact or the effort that went into achieving the impact); and
  • Pathway: how the NERC-funded activity made a distinct and material contribution to the impact outcome.

Where can I find examples of NERC-funded impact?

The winners of the 2015 NERC Impact Awards are described here. Our annual Impact Reports also contain a wide selection of impact case studies.

How do I know if my impact is eligible?

We use the REF definition for impact: impact is an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.

Applications can be from individuals or teams. The eligibility requirements are described in the guidelines, do get in touch if you have any questions.

Who do I talk to if I have a question?

Feel free to call us on 01793 411698, or email us at impact@nerc.ac.uk.


Each year, Fiona’s team brings together top NERC impact stories into a report. For more information on the awards visit our website.


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