Maximise your research impact to make a difference

Prirotising high impact research, maximising your research reach and measuring its effects should be high priority

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For many years, nurse researchers lived in a world of ‘publish or perish’, whereby research success was measured by the number of publications, the quality of journals published in or citation counts. Internationally, in recent years, there is a growing movement to shift measurement towards research impact. Indeed both 2014's UK Research Excellence Framework and 2018's Excellence in Research Australia assessment considered not only the number and quality of outputs, but also their impact beyond academia. So what does this mean for nurse researchers?

As a clinical profession, nursing research has significant potential to impact on clinical practice, policy, workforce planning, education and/or health outcomes. However, if the evidence generated by this research is not translated and implemented this impact may not be realised.

Three research tips

What can you do to maximise the impact of your research? First, when developing a research idea keep the potential impact at the forefront. Projects that have high potential impact should be prioritised. Those projects with limited potential for impact should be reviewed to consider if another angle could increase the impact.

Second, disseminate your findings to those who can be affected by the work. So, while publishing the outcomes in a quality journal is important, so is capturing interest via social media, professional publications and direct presentations to stakeholders. This dissemination must capture the findings and implications of the research in a way that can be easily understood and inform change.

Finally, to measure the impact of your research, capture any evidence of the impact. This evidence may include a range of sources, including hits on a social media post, complimentary emails, media stories, uptake of a resource or participant feedback.

While changing the goalposts of success may be a frustration by some, promoting research that has an impact on the profession, health service or consumer has the potential to generate real-life gains in nursing policy, education and practice.

About the author

Liz HalcombLiz Halcomb is editor of Nurse Researcher