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Impact case studies

As part of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework exercise, UK higher education institutions (HEIs) submitted 6,975 impact case studies demonstrating the impact of their research on wider society.

These case studies provide a unique and invaluable source of information on the impact of UK research.

Analysis of impact case studies

UK higher education (HE) research has wide and varied benefits on the economy, society, culture, policy, health, the environment and quality of life — both within the UK and overseas.

Analysis found that these wider effects often stem from multidisciplinary work and reflect the way that universities have engaged with a range of public, private and charitable organisations and local communities.

The REF impact case studies have been analysed and this work has produced:

The REF impact case study database

The impact case study database is a searchable tool that will make the impact case studies widely available, and will enable analysis and automated text mining of nearly 6,700 of the impact case studies.

It provides a new usable source of evidence of the value of UK HE research which will engage and generate interest in the world beyond academia.

Read the licence arrangements relating to the use of this database.

Maps of impact case studies

The maps of impact case studies indicate the local and global spread of research impact for UK higher education institutions (HEIs) by impact type and research area.

They are based on the names of locations referenced in REF2014 impact case studies and categorised in the REF impact case study database.


An initial analysis of the REF impact case studies, captured in the report: ‘The nature, scale and beneficiaries of research impact’.

This work should encourage further analysis of the case studies by any interested parties, both within the UK and internationally.

The REF impact case studies were analysed by Digital Science, a division of Macmillan Science & Education, working in conjunction with its sister company Nature Publishing Group and the policy institute at King’s College London to analyse the REF impact case studies. This analysis was co-funded by the UK Funding Bodies, Research Councils UK and Wellcome Trust.

Page last updated 19 February 2016