The importance of accurately and realistically describing the impact of your research within NWO applications is increasing, also within the Talent Programme (Veni Vidi and Vici). But how do you determine the impact of your research? And what should you take into account when working out the knowledge utilisation / impact paragraph?
NWO defines knowledge utilisation as the (iterative) process that will generate impact. In other words, knowledge utilisation is a set of actions that achieve long-term impact (e.g. combating climate change or providing better treatment for diseases). Whether the impact will actually be achieved is of course uncertain, but you are asked to think about what impact (scientific or societal) you expect to achieve with your research in ~10 years and how you will facilitate this process.
To write a knowledge utilisation/impact section, we often recommend the following steps:
- Determine whether your research will deliver purely scientific, purely societal, or a combination of scientific and societal impact. Note that (for the Vidi and the Vici) if you choose one of them, you must also describe how you deal with possibilities for the other form of impact. You can’t just choose scientific impact so that you don’t have to think about the social impact.
- Think about where your research can lead to in about 10 years and write it down convincingly. Think broadly and “out of the box” and keep it general! Often there is one specific impact, but there may also be more (for example, improved and cheaper treatment of breast cancer and better quality of life for breast cancer patients).
- Brainstorm further with your colleagues about the possibilities to achieve this impact. Also think about which people (colleagues, companies, non-profit organizations, policy makers) are needed to further realize the impact. These are your stakeholders or knowledge users.
- Select the most logical and feasible scenarios and develop them further in an action plan. How will you use the knowledge generated by your research? Which stakeholders do you need for this and how are you going to communicate with them so that they will do something with your knowledge? (NWO calls this productive interactions).
- Define at what time in and after your project there are opportunities for knowledge utilisation and what these steps will realise. This gives you an overview that indicates when knowledge utilisation can be applied in and after your project.
- Link these knowledge utilisation steps to the impact. Check if something is missing, can you still fill those gaps?
For the final steps, be complete, concrete (SMART) and define the path to impact. Obvious possibilities for knowledge utilisation that you do not discuss will easily get by the referees so it is important to think carefully about it.
Drawing up your knowledge utilisation/impact paragraph is not easy, it takes time, creativity, and elaboration. Do you need help with this? Let us then exchange views. We understand the how and why of knowledge utilisation and impact in grant applications and are happy to help you!
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