Impact Statement Guidelines | NSE
We ask authors to report on the impact of the research they are doing. This is done by writing impact statements. Impact statements are used in a number of different ways, but in short will tell others the significance of your research and the importance of your article.
The following is a summary of what impact statements are and how to write them.
What Is Impact?
Impact is the difference your research is making in the lives of teachers, students, administrators lives. In more technical terms, impact is the quantifiable difference a research or education program makes in the quality of life for its clients and citizens.
An impact statement is a brief summary, in non-technical terms, of the economic, environmental, and/or social impact of our efforts. It states accomplishments and their payoff to society. In short, an impact statement answers two questions:
Why Should You Care about Impact?
Impact reporting is important to a number of different people, both on and off campus.
Impact is important to administrators because it:
- Illustrates accountability.
- Improves visibility of programs at the local, state, and national level.
- Generates support materials for lobbying.
- Creates a repository of anecdotes for speeches or letters.
Helps organize the focus for initiatives and program themes.
- Helps build greater understanding of your programs by the public.
- Is easier to get people interested in science and education programs when the outcomes are emphasized.
Impact reporting is important to you as faculty member because:
- This kind of reporting makes sense to legislators who control funding and to the public.
- You are contributing to scientific literacy.
- It cuts the number of urgent requests you get for program examples, story ideas, etc.
- Your work will get more exposure.
Your work will be exposed to potential funders.
So What Makes a Good Impact Statement?
Remember, an impact statement is the quantifiable difference a research or educational program makes in the quality of life for its clients and citizens.
A good impact statement answers the questions "So what?" and "Who cares?"
An impact statement is NOT:
- A description of a program.
- The number of people attending a meeting.
- The number of students in a class.
- A two-inch thick report detailing all your outcomes and findings.
Impact statements must answer the "so what?" question.
Having Trouble Describing Your Article's Impact?
Sometimes it is difficult to define or quantify the impact of your article. This is especially true for basic research, research on youth and families, teaching, and research that spans many years. If this describes your work, consider including potential impact.
Potential impact allows you to describe:
- The most likely benefactors of the research or education project.
- What you expect the outcome to be and why.
- An idea of how long it would take to reach expected outcomes.
- Real or hypothetical examples of expected outcomes.
Here is an example of a potential impact statement:
We bought special software for classroom computers. The students learned to analyze the total true cost of producing food products. Using the same software industry uses gives these students a leg up in the job market and makes them ready to boost the food economy.
Anecdotes are your friends! Consider using one person's story for a hard-to-quantify project. If you can relate your work to an existing, measurable problem, do not hesitate to use anecdotal, measurable examples of behavior change or knowledge acquisition that can be extrapolated to a broader audience.
Here is an example of an anecdotal impact statement:
Sally James, a beef producer, says the university saved her life. As part of a special thrust on rabies education, a radio report on rabies symptoms in cattle was produced and distributed. James heard the story on her local radio station and thought she had a cow with symptoms. She called the vet, who said no. A second opinion also said no rabies. The cow died and James sent it in for testing. The test came back positive for transmittable rabies. James got immediate treatment -- and credits the radio report with describing things well enough to save her life.
Components of an Impact Statement
- Program goal and objectives.
- Issue or problem to be addressed.
- Anticipated outcomes.
- Measurable outcome data.
- Outcomes/accomplishments are written so they show impact on an individual or group of people.
- Tell us "who cares" and "so what."
Other important factors:
- Clarity and readability -- an impact statement is not the first 10 pages of a journal article about the project or your entire project report.
- Illustrate how your work changed or improved the lives of your clientele.
Talk about the contributions your work can make to society.
The Issue: Data obtained from a local hospital in western Michigan showed that only 18 percent of women who delivered initiated breastfeeding. Nationally, more than 60 percent of women breastfeed, reducing illness in infants and risk of cancers in mothers.
What’s been done? Twenty educational classes were offered to pregnant women. Thirty-six pregnant women attended class 1, 32 attended class 2, and 13 attended class 3.
Impact (so what): Approximately 60 percent of the mothers initiated breastfeeding. Mothers who breastfeed save $130 per month in formula costs.
The issue: Farmers need more than just new crops. They also need new markets.
What has been done? MAES researchers and MSUE specialists connected small fruit and vegetable growers to new markets.
Impact: As a result, Michigan’s small farmers now provide more than 60,000 pounds of fresh produce to 20 school districts in the state.
The issue: Agriculture is a sustainable cycle. Producers are always looking for new ways to reduce runoff, recycle waste, improve the soil and use less fertilizer and fewer pesticides.
What has been done? Researchers reduced harmful hog manure odor by changing the diet of the pigs.
Impact: By reducing the crude protein and adding synthetic amino acids, nitrogen levels in manure were reduced by up to 30 percent, ammonia levels were reduced by half and detectable odors and “rotten egg” gas emissions dropped by 40 percent.
Information taken from the Michigan State University website.