On the 6th of November I attended the North West ESRC / AHRC Doctoral Training Partnerships Impact Event at the University of Liverpool.
Before going into details about the presentations, I want to start by saying that I’m a Year 1 PhD student, and this workshop has completely changed the way I’m approaching my research. Although I knew it was important to connect with the relevant people/institutions that could be impacted by my research, I never thought about ways to measure it….
This brings me to the first guess speaker. Dr Chris Williams, Research Impact Officer, University of Liverpool plus three Impact Post-Doctoral Research Associates. In his presentation, What is Impact? he challenged us to think about what has changed as a result of our research, not only that, but to be crystal clear at identifying who has benefitted from the impact of our research and what were those benefits, when did they take place and what is the link to our research. He emphasised the importance of documenting, gathering evidence and being able to present a compelling narrative, which I will definitively be doing from now on. We also hear the experience from three PGRs involved in impact, Rachel, Anna and Daniel, which is always useful to learn from the experience of other peers.
The second presentation was What does impact mean for Postgraduate Researchers? by Hellen Parra Florez, Researcher Development Officer, University of Manchester. Her presentation was a good way to reinforce the concept learnt from the first speaker. Her approach to how impact works focuses on the idea that it will help us (1) to improve our personal understanding of our research, (2) to discover a new sense of motivation, (3) to prepare us for many facets of our career and (4) to prepare stronger job applications. What I value the most about her presentation was that she gave us specific ideas and examples of things that we could be doing during our PhD to create future impact, such as to start building a network, to engage with stakeholder outside the academia, to participate in public engagement and communication activities among others. She also mentioned some great opportunities that the research development team from the University of Manchester has for the students, including Humanitas Brew, Got a minute? and “Somos con Cecilia Ramos’ a Spanish Radio Show that I will definitively be taking advantage of.
The third and final presentation was about Placements and Internships by Dr Gemma Scott, Engagement, Partnership and Impact Development Officer, Keele University, and Dr Mathew Pawelski, Lancaster University. This was a very useful presentation to learn more about the different opportunities we have as AHRC and ESRC students and the value of doing a placement and/or internship, which you guest, it is all about maximising opportunities for making an impact and building networks. The final part of the presentation was an interview style with Dr Matthew Pawelski, where we were able to learn about his placement experience.
The final part of the workshop was practical. We worked at looking several sample projects. Ahead of the event we were asked to send a brief description about our research, which was then randomly distributed among the attendees. We worked at identifying audiences, impact and evidence for each example, these were then collected and sent to us by email. It was really interesting to read what others thought about my research proposal and the potential impact it could have.
Overall, a great workshop. Informative and practical at the same time. I have been very pleased with all the workshop opportunities the NWSSDTP has provided us so far, and I am really looking forward to attending more workshops.
By Macarena Rueda, Social Statistics, University of Liverpool, 2018 cohort