So What?!

Hold on, hold on, please do not get uncomfortable. Relax. It is just the “so what? Why not?” questions we should all endeavour to ask ourselves this year, especially in academia. Why should anyone care about our project, research topic, or start-up idea? I will give you a hint. It is all about the IMPACT!

How will it affect human lives, our society, and our planet? The answer should come from our knowledge and our hearts. Our “whys” might be valid, but what about the “value” attributed to it? Of what significance would it be? What impact will it have?

Further understanding of the significance of impact in academia can be gleaned from discussions by Dr Carla Bonina (Senior Lecturer – Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Surrey Business School) and Prof Sabine Benoit (Professor of Marketing at Surrey Business School) at a recently concluded seminar organised by the Centre of Digital Economy (CODE) and Centre for Social Innovation Management (CSIM) titled: “How to Add Value to Your Research Through an Impact Case”.  

According to Prof Sabine Benoit:  

  • The impact is stepping outside the academic world to the real world to measure the implication of our research. 
  • Relationship with the outside world is invaluable. Researchers should endeavour to build network connections with practitioners. 
  • For the time of practitioners in industry, researchers should offer insights and request to know what “real life” organisational problems they face, as this could provide potentially impactful research questions. 
  • Excellent ways to build network connections could be attending practitioner conferences, university connections, presentations, through the data collection process, and finding people who might be interested in the research work or project, for instance, through LinkedIn.

According to Dr Carla Bonina: 

  • The impact is a way to contribute to better the lives of people. It is a contribution to society. 
  • It takes a lot of work to build the network and build research with impact. 
  • However, it helps to have a plan for how much? And how long?
  • Have a good project management map, as it requires planning and trade-offs. Be prepared to be flexible. 
  • Engage with relevant policy summits, conferences, networks, and people to create balance, as researchers need to give something back. For instance, data for insight or advice. 
  • Some connections are valuable, and some are not. 
  • Researchers should endeavour to wear different hats.

Conclusively, both agreed that adding value through impact is hard work and absolutely crucial. 

Thanks again for taking out time to read through. I hope this piece has been impactful. Till next time, take care. Cheers!