One way of effectively demonstrating the impact that your research has had on your stakeholders is to collect testimonial evidence. This generally takes the form of a letter from a collaborator on headed paper, although e-mails are also acceptable.
It can sometimes feel awkward to ask collaborators to write corroborating statements of this kind and this is why researchers often leave it to the last minute to request this information. Don’t make this mistake: if you leave it too late you may find that the main contact for your research has left the institution, may have retired or even passed away. You should therefore capture all evidence from your stakeholders as soon as you can.
Most importantly, don’t forget to look into whether or not you need informed consent and ethical approval before obtaining any testimonials.
Requesting letters of support
When it comes to requesting supporting letters, the level of detail is in part dictated by what the organisation is willing to provide. However, the following suggestions may help you in deciding what would make a strong testimonial in support of your research impact:
- Clearly outline who the letter is from, their role in the organisation and connection to the project in question
- State the researcher(s) and University(ies) involved and why they were chosen to be part of the project (e.g. research profile/quality; previous collaborations; expertise in the field etc.)
- Describe the project/activities undertaken and importance of the research to the stakeholder organisation (how it has enhanced their business/portfolio)
- Describe the benefits to the organisation and/or members, through qualitative and/or quantitative means (NB: for impact evidence some form of quantitative data will help make a stronger case if available, e.g. audience reach etc.)
- Indicate if the organisation is proposing any ongoing partnerships/future collaborations
External organisations, such as Fast Track Impact (in the UK) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, provide useful information on how to collect testimonials and what could be included.
Why not check out the following:
Fast Track Impact:
Canadian Institutes of Health Research:
Remember: start collecting your impact testimonials as your research develops and don’t forget to store them in our Figshare data repository at https://salford.figshare.com/