The assessment period for impact in REF2014 was 1 January 2008 to 31 July 2013.

Impact case studies must have been underpinned by excellent research produced in the submitting unit between 1 January 1993 to 31 December 2013.

The assessment of Impact in REF 2014 contributed 20% of the overall assessment. Impact was assessed on 'reach and significance'. Each submission included:

  • Impact template (REF3a): describing the submitting unit's approach to enabling impact from its research (20% impact assessment).
  • Impact case studies (REF3b): describing specific impact(s) that were underpinned by excellent research undertaken in the submitting unit (80% impact assessment).
Criteria for impact
Definition An effect on, change or benefit beyond academia to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life.
Includes An effect on, change or benefit to the activity, attitude, awareness, behaviour, capacity, opportunity, performance, policy, practice, process or understanding of an audience, beneficiary, community, constituency, organisation or individuals in any geographic location whether locally, regionally, nationally or internationally;
Reduction or prevention of harm, risk, cost or other negative effects;
Impact within HE (including on teaching or students) where they extend significantly beyond Imperial.
Excludes Impact on research or the advancement of academic knowledge;
Impact on students, teaching or other activities within Imperial.
Underpinning research Must have been produced by staff within the scope of the UoA descriptor whilst working at Imperial (even if they have since left);
Must be the equivalent of at least 2* quality to be eligible i.e. 'quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour'. If the quality of the underpinning research is assessed to be less than 2*, the case study will be graded unclassified;
Must have made a distinct and material contribution to the impact taking place, such that the impact would not have occurred, or would have been significantly altered/reduced, without its contribution.
Criteria for impact

Submission requirements: Impact template (REF3a)

The impact template provided context for the individual case studies plus information on a wider range of activity indicating the capacity for impact beyond the case study examples. Impact templates included:

  • Context;
  • Unit's approach to impact during the impact assessment period;
  • Strategy and plans for supporting impact;
  • Relationship between unit's approach to impact and the submitted case studies.

Submission requirements: Impact case studies (REF3b)

Submitted impacts may be at any stage of development or maturity, so long as some effect, change or benefit took place during the assessment period. Impact case studies were not assessed on any impact prior to the assessment period, or potential future or anticipated impacts.
Impact Case studies included:

  • Title
  • Summary of the impact (up to 100 words) briefly stating the specific impact described in the case study.
  • Description of underpinning research (up to 500 words) stating the key research insights or findings that underpinned the impact, and providing details of what research was undertaken, when, and by whom.
  • References to the research (up to six) listing key outputs and evidence about the quality of the research.
  • Details of the impact (up to 750 words) providing a narrative, with supporting evidence, to explain how the research underpinned (made a distinct and material contribution to) the impact and the nature and extent of the impact. All main and sub-panels require submitting units to provide evidence of impact appropriate to the type(s) of impact claimed.

Each submission included one case study plus one additional case study for every 10 Category A staff (FTE) submitted. Submissions could not exceed the required number of case studies. Also, each case study was limited to 4 pages, including all references.

Criteria and definitions of starred levels for the assessment of impact

Star levelDefinition
4* Outstanding impacts in terms of their reach and significance.
3* Very considerable impacts in terms of their reach and significance.
2* Considerable impacts in terms of their reach and significance.
1* Recognised but modest impacts in terms of their reach and significance.
Unclassified The impact is of little or no reach and significance; or the impact was not eligible; or the impact was not underpinned by excellent research produced by the submitting unit.
Star ratings explanation