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Research Impact

Library Contacts

If you have questions about research impact, please contact your subject librarian, who will be able to provide you with more details and assistance. 


W. K. Kellogg Health Sciences Library
Killam Memorial Library 
MacRae Library 
Sexton Design & Technology Library 
Law Library

What is Research Impact?

Research impact refers to the effect your work has on others. For example, when the information and knowledge you impart through your scholarship informs or influences how subsequent researchers approach or perform their own research or when decision makers use your research to make evidence-informed policy, your research has made an impact!

Comprehensive tracking of impact includes tracking your outputs - the many ways in which you communicate your research knowledge, and uptakes - the indications that your research information has been acquired and used. This guide provides a foundation for doing that, but never hesitate to ask your librarian for more information or help.

Why Track Research Impact

There are a range of reasons why it is beneficial to track research impact:

  • Justify requests for funding
  • Quantify return on research investment
  • Discover how research findings are being used
  • Identify similar research projects
  • Identify possible collaborators
  • Determine if research findings are duplicated, confirmed, corrected, improved, or repudiated
  • Determine if research findings were extended (different human populations, different animal models/species, etc.)
  • Confirm that research findings were properly attributed/credited
  • Demonstrate that research findings are resulting in meaningful outcomes
  • Discover community benefit as a result of research findings
  • Progress reports
  • Tenure
  • Promotion dossiers

(This list has been slightly modified from Bernard Becker Medical Library. (2015). Becker Medical Library Model for Assessment of Research Impact. Retrieved from Assessing the Impact of Research).

Challenges in Tracking Research Impact

The nature of scholarly outputs can differ widely across disciplines, which means there is no single way to assess research impact. The quantitative methods based on citation counts were developed with the sciences in mind. These methods should be used with caution in the social sciences and may not be appropriate in the humanities. Please consult with your subject librarian for more information. The links below lead to impact resources outside the sciences.

Social Sciences & Humanities



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