Society faces increasingly complex challenges and issues for which solutions must be found. Think of the energy transition, the manageability of care, or climate change. New knowledge and insights from scientific research can make an important contribution to solutions for societal issues of today and tomorrow. The chance of societal impact of research is increased by involving users who may want to use the knowledge from research and jointly drawing up a plan with them to achieve the desired societal impact.
An integrated strategy
The Impact Plan approach consists of an integrated strategy that promotes Productive Interactions through the use of a Theory of Change and Impact Pathways.
The core of the approach is to facilitate reflection in the design and implementation of research (programming).
Exchange between researchers and with other stakeholders in which knowledge is generated and valued that is both scientifically robust and societally relevant. Examples of productive interactions are: designing research together with possible end users (co-design), conducting research together, discussing the results of research interactively (co-creation).
Interactions can be direct / personal, indirect or financial. The number and quality of productive interactions are a measure of knowledge utilisation and the chance of societal impact
Theory of Change and Impact Pathways
A Theory of Change is a schematic presentation with a narrative or illustration that shows how a programme or project can bring about desired changes for a target group in a specific context. By making underlying assumptions explicit, a reflective approach is facilitated. It provides insight into how formulated activities can contribute to the ultimate goal.
The path from outputs (insights from research) via outcomes (changes in behavior based on these insights) to impact (larger changes in society) is specified in several specific impact pathways. In these Impact Pathways, the use, adaptation and impact of knowledge are projected over time. This will give a better understanding of the way in which change can take place and will give a better grip on planning, monitoring and evaluation.
Schematically, the Theory of Change and the associated Impact Pathway(s) look like this:
More information about the application of the Impact Plan Approach will be published in the coming period.