REF2021: 4* impact case studies

We all know there’s more to impact than REF impact case studies. However, they represent a lot of hard work and the new REF2021 database of 6,781 impact case studies is so big and wide-ranging that it’s a major resource for anyone interested in research impact. A look at these impact case studies can help academics and research managers understand what impact may look like in a particular area, plan and articulate impact, scope relevant stakeholders and engagement strategies, and consider what evidence and indicators might be relevant when describing different kinds of impact.

The database can be searched and filtered in a number of ways but (beyond sitting with a spreadsheet of REF results) there is no easy way to pick out the highest scoring examples. That’s why many REF and impact managers in universities across the UK will be making lists of 4* impact case studies from REF2021. Here’s mine – click on the UoA of interest below and you’ll uncover links to the (publicly available) 4* impact case studies in that area. These are case studies that are unambiguously identifiable as scoring 4* – there are many other 4* examples but they are buried in submissions.

Of course, it is highly reductionist to focus on these 246 publicly available, identifiable 4* case studies – they represent less than 4% of the whole REF2021 impact case study database – but I know (from my own work with academics and research managers) that this list is a useful entry point to exploring the database more widely.

It’s worth noting that not every UoA had unambiguously identifiable 4* case studies. In case the UoA you are interested in doesn’t appear below, watch this space because I’ll be putting together an accompanying list of the top 5 impact submissions in every UoA.

2. Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care
4. Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Early years’ experience and social mobility: Research evidence promoting policy changes to young children’s education and home learning environments (Birkbeck College)
Informing practice and legal frameworks for adoption by LGBT parents (Birkbeck College)
The impact of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis on training and practice in academia, applied clinical and health research, and commercial consultancy (Birkbeck College)
Improving Literacy Attainments for Young People Using Prosody, Morphology, and Phonology (Coventry University)
Tackling FGM across the EU though a Community Behaviour-Change Approach (Coventry University)
A: Design and use of a rapid assessment tool that improves detection of delirium benefits patients and health services (University of Edinburgh)
B: Extending the indications for the clot-busting drug alteplase for treatment of acute ischaemic stroke increases patient survival and independent living worldwide (University of Edinburgh)
C: A standardised cognitive screening tool to underpin personalised care for people with motor neurone disease worldwide (University of Edinburgh)
D: Adding Functional Neurological Disorders to the global neurology agenda: transforming information, attitudes, diagnosis and patient experience (University of Edinburgh)
E: A novel teaching method based on the theory of Interactive Alignment is in widespread use in schools and universities in China and results in improved levels of English (University of Edinburgh)
F: Reversal in recommended standard of care of treating immobile stroke patients prevents deep vein thrombosis and improves survival after stroke (University of Edinburgh)
G: Improving the reproducibility of preclinical research through more rigorous and robust policy and practice at publishers, funders and industry (University of Edinburgh)
H: Identifying cost-effective imaging strategies to diagnose acute stroke and to prevent secondary disabling stroke (University of Edinburgh)
I: Uncovering a causative link between recombinant interferon beta therapy and thrombotic microangiopathy leads to international safety alerts and risk mitigation measures (University of Edinburgh)
J: Change in UK blood donation policy around plasma and platelets following accurate definition of vCJD transmission risks leads to simpler logistics and cost savings (University of Edinburgh)
Do Something Different: achieving positive behaviour change in health and business settings and among individuals (University of Hertfordshire)
New clinical approaches for the effective diagnosis and treatment of obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (University of Hertfordshire)
Improving identification and support of individuals with movement and handwriting difficulties through development of assessment tools for practitioners (Oxford Brookes University)
Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) benefit patient quality of life and the economy (Royal Holloway and Bedford New College)
Psychological research improves practice in the management of chronic pain (Royal Holloway and Bedford New College)
Using the science of reading to change literacy policy and practice (Royal Holloway and Bedford New College)
Advancing multimodal evidence-based treatment of ADHD worldwide (University of Southampton)
Changing our understanding of the lasting impact of severe early deprivation on development: The impact of the English and Romanian Adoption study (University of Southampton)
LifeGuide – Developing Internet-based Support for Healthcare (University of Southampton)
POWeR – cost effective online support for weight management (University of Southampton)
6. Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences
8. Chemistry
10. Mathematical Sciences
11. Computer Science and Informatics
Fighting the Malicious Web (University of Birmingham)
Providing accessibility to scientific documents to visually impaired readers through new technology (University of Birmingham)
Securing Banking Infrastructure with a New Cryptographic Protocol Testing Tool (University of Birmingham)
Code size reduction enables cost savings and enhances functionality of modem and WiFi chipsets (University of Edinburgh)
Effect handlers for increased reach, effectiveness, and future-proofing in software products and services (University of Edinburgh)
Neural machine translation improves translation quality (University of Edinburgh)
Neural network speech recognition algorithms lead to accurate speech-to-text transcription deployed in diverse products and services (University of Edinburgh)
Novel architecture for high-performance computing accelerates data intensive software applications and enables release of new server lines (University of Edinburgh)
Ouroboros provable proof-of-stake protocol ensures success of new blockchain platform and cryptocurrency (University of Edinburgh)
The novel testing tool DexFuzz enables a smooth transition to Google’s Android Runtime (ART) and its continuous bug-free development (University of Edinburgh)
Two billion devices enabled annually by optimised low power embedded processor (University of Edinburgh)
World-leading audio animation research enables continued growth of spinout company and novel features in computer gaming (University of Edinburgh)
Blended Spaces – Creating Commercial and Social Benefit by Transforming Human Computer Interaction (Edinburgh Napier University)
Enabling Sensitive Personal Data to be Shared with Trust using Novel Digital Security Methods (Edinburgh Napier University)
Protecting Employees, Children and Sensitive Data using Innovative Approaches to Cyber Security (Edinburgh Napier University)
Algorithms for Paired Kidney Donation: Increasing Living Kidney Transplantation in the UK (University of Glasgow)
Increased scalability of Erlang for improved telecommunications and internet server capability (University of Glasgow)
WebRTC standards improve interactive audio/visual communications via the world-wide web (University of Glasgow)
GraphicsFuzz: Reliable and Secure Graphics Programming (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine)
Infer: Scalable Static Analysis at Facebook and Beyond (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine)
IXICO: Automated Biomedical Image Analysis for Clinical Trials (pharma) and Healthcare (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine)
SLAM: Enabling Algorithms for Robotics and Augmented Reality (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine)
Causal Bayesian Reasoning Tools for Critical Decision Making (Queen Mary University of London)
Improving Mental Healthcare through a Tool for Effective Clinical Communication (Queen Mary University of London)
The Bela Open-source Hardware Platform for Music Makers and Artists (Queen Mary University of London)
The Infer Tool for Automatic Verification of Memory Violations in Software Systems (Queen Mary University of London)
Cost-effective assurance for industrial software systems through open source formal modelling and verification tools (University of Southampton)
LifeGuide: Online Behavioural Interventions (University of Southampton)
Novel image capture, processing and analysis methods for widespread web publishing, new commercial products and cultural heritage preservation (University of Southampton)
Pioneering transnational open data innovation ecosystems to develop AI and the data economy in a secure way (University of Southampton)
13. Architecture, Built Environment and Planning
14. Geography and Environmental Studies
15. Archaeology
18. Law
19. Politics and International Studies
20. Social Work and Social Policy
Achieving justice and improving support and protection for victims-survivors of gender-based violence (University of Bristol)
Effecting policy and practice change in England to improve the educational outcomes of Children in Care (University of Bristol)
Evidence of premature deaths in people with learning disabilities informs major reform of health policy and practice in England (University of Bristol)
Multidimensional measures of poverty and deprivation have informed policy makers and policy initiatives globally (University of Bristol)
Making adoptions more open: enabling birth family contact nationally and internationally (University of East Anglia)
Transforming the lives of children in state care: implementation of the UEA Secure Base model of therapeutic caregiving in the UK and internationally (University of East Anglia)
Better measurement of income inequality levels and trends (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Housing Plus – giving social housing tenants a voice (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Improving the fairness and efficiency of Austria’s social insurance and healthcare system (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Improving the lives of disadvantaged people through better measurement of poverty and inequality (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Informing fairer, more transparent, and cost-effective social care policy (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Supporting policy and practice change for better mental health (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Better support for victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse in LGBT relationships (University of Sunderland)
Influencing international government policy on and public attitudes towards assisted suicide (University of Sunderland)

21. Sociology

22. Anthropology and Development Studies
23. Education
Shaping the policy and practice of character education (University of Birmingham)
Transforming higher education access and service provision for people with vision impairment (University of Birmingham)
Transforming How Autistic Children and Young People are Understood, Taught and Treated in Mainstream Education Settings (University of Birmingham)
Enhancing educational experiences for care experienced children and young people in Wales (Cardiff University)
Reshaping the effective delivery of early years and primary education in Wales (Cardiff University)
Transforming national policy and practice in sex and relationships education in Wales, England and internationally (Cardiff University)
Defending and improving schooling for disadvantaged pupils (University of Durham)
Improving the educational outcomes of children starting school in five countries (University of Durham)
The Dyslexia Debate and its relevance for policy and practice (University of Durham)
The Pupil Premium Toolkit: Evidence for Impact in Education (University of Durham)
Enhancing gender equality in national and international educational contexts (University of Lancaster)
Evaluating and enhancing the quality of learning and teaching in higher education (University of Lancaster)
Changing policy and practice on the Education of Children Looked After (CLA) (University of Oxford)
Improving national literacy levels in the Republic of the Sudan (University of Oxford)
Improving the Quality of Educational Assessments (University of Oxford)
Reforming Initial Teacher Education in Wales (University of Oxford)
Transforming Early Education Policy and Practice (University of Oxford)
Changing family literacy practices in prisons, schools and community settings (University of Sheffield)
Transforming children’s digital literacy practices in formal and non-formal learning spaces (University of Sheffield)
Education and Peacebuilding in Conflict-Affected Contexts: Influencing UNICEF’s and key international actors’ approaches to peace-promoting education policy and practice (University of Sussex)
Enabling second chance education for out-of-school children in Ghana and Ethiopia (University of Sussex)
Improving policy and practice on Integration, Education and Language for refugees and migrants (University of Sussex)
Fairer Access for UK Postgraduates (University of York)
Transforming Modern Foreign Languages Pedagogy in England (University of York)
Transforming Teacher Selection Practices in Developed and Developing Countries (University of York)
24. Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism
25. Area Studies
26. Modern Languages and Linguistics
27. English Language and Literature
28. History
29. Classics
30. Philosophy
31. Theology and Religious Studies

32. Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

33. Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies
Changing the lives of people living with dementia (PWD) and their families through music therapy research (Anglia Ruskin University)
Improving music therapy for children with autism and their families by developing and embedding an innovative interactive approach (Anglia Ruskin University)
‘Taking Care’: Enhancing UK nursing training using mixed-methods drama research to reconceptualise, teach and promote embodied ‘care’ in clinical interactions (Guildhall School of Music & Drama)
Cultural inclusion, cross-curricular education, and new inter-institutional production mechanisms through practice-based research in opera and libretto composition (Guildhall School of Music & Drama)
Lesions in the Landscape: Stimulating Understanding and Debate around Amnesia and Memory Loss Through the Intersection of Arts and Science (University of Kent)
The Power of Drawing: Transforming Public Perception of Raphael (University of Kent)
Women We See: Improving Representation in Advertising on London’s Transport Network (University of Kent)
In Place of War (IPOW) – Supporting, developing and promoting artists from conflict zones: from responsive research to internationally significant arts organisation (University of Manchester A)
Multi-Story Water: Cultivating environmental citizenship in West Yorkshire through sited performance research (University of Manchester A)
Performing Development: Progressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Fragile Territories through Collaborative Arts-based Research Projects (Queen Mary University of London A)
The Verbatim Formula: Making Care-Experienced Young People Heard in Care and Education Contexts in the United Kingdom (Queen Mary University of London A)
Dance for Parkinson’s: evidencing, developing and embedding dance initiatives for people with Parkinson’s Diseases internationally (Roehampton University A)
Dancing with ageing, illness and loss through dialogic research (Roehampton University A)
Augmenting Audio Drama: innovation in the form and preservation of cultural memory (Roehampton University B)
Doing Time (Roehampton University B)
Curating new expressions of Mali’s musical heritage: Trio De Kali and the Kronos Quartet (School of Oriental and African Studies)
Reviving Endangered Music to Empower Marginalized Communities in Mexico and Namibia (School of Oriental and African Studies)
ICS1 Inclusive Creativity – driving inclusion in music for disabled artists using creative technologies (University of Ulster)
ICS2 Arts Data Impact: using arts data to drive organisational and policy change in the creative industries sector (University of Ulster)
34. Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management

I hope this all makes sense and helps you find some useful impact case study examples, whatever your area. Any issues, just leave a comment or get in touch!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *