NHMRC defines the impact of research as the verifiable outcomes that research makes to knowledge, health, the economy and/or society, and not the prospective or anticipated effects of the research.
Impact is the effect of the research after it has been adopted, adapted for use, or used to inform further research. Research impact also includes research that leads to a decision not to use a particular diagnostic, treatment or health policy.
Types of impact
NHMRC recognises four specific types of impact:
- Knowledge impact
- Health impact
- Economic impact
- Social impact.
More information about each type of impact is available on the Types of research impact table.
Impacts from health and medical research can include the following benefits:
- results from basic research used to inform the understanding of biological processes that underpin improvements in new therapeutics, diagnostics or disease prevention
- evidence-based improvements to health care practices or health care systems
- reduction in health risk factors for, or improvements to, health-related behaviours of individuals and communities
- improvements in access to health care services
- improvements in consistency of care
- improvements in patient empowerment and participation in care delivery
- commercialisation of scientific discoveries that improve health and contribute to the economy
- demonstrations of how research collaboration with end users can provide outcomes relevant to end users
- demonstrations of the value for money of research outcomes and outputs
- improvements to the social well-being, equality or social inclusion of individuals and communities.
Why is communicating the impact of research important?
Communicating the impact of the research funded by NHMRC shows the variety of ways the community benefits from Australian health and medical research and provides accountability for the Australian Government’s significant public investment in health and medical research. As an Australian Government agency, NHMRC is legislatively required to generate public benefits and to show that it has done so. These requirements are set out in the:
- National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992, which has ‘Raising the standard of individual and public health throughout Australia’ as one of its objectives
- Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, which requires Australian Government organisations, including NHMRC, to measure and assess their own performance in achieving their purposes
- Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines 2017, which outline key principles for better practice grants administration including ‘an outcomes orientation’ and ‘achieving value with relevant money’.
What NHMRC is doing to communicate impact
You can learn more about the impact of the research NHMRC funds in a number of ways. NHMRC:
- works with partners to demonstrate the longer-term impacts of NHMRC funded research through NHMRC Impact case studies.
- publishes features on the researchers and research supported by NHMRC funding in 10 of the Best
- provides information on how funding is allocated in Research funding data and on research collaboration and research outputs in Measuring Up
- recognises the impact of research through the Research Excellence Awards, the winners of which are assessed by their peers as meeting the highest national and international standards for their research.
In addition, grant applicants are encouraged to consider the impact of their research through the assessment of Research Impact as part of the Track Record, relative to opportunity assessment criteria for Investigator Grants and Synergy Grants.
NHMRC identifies four specific types of impact: knowledge impact, health impact, economic impact and social impact. Research may result in more than one type of impact.
|Type of impact||Description of research impact||Examples|
|Improvements in health through new therapeutics, diagnostics, disease prevention or changes in behaviour; or improvements in disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, management of health problems, health policy, health systems, and quality of life.||
|Economic impact||Improvements in the nation’s economic performance through creation of new industries, jobs or valuable products, or reducing health care costs; improving efficiency in resource use, or improving the welfare/well-being of the population within current health system resources. An economic impact may also contribute to social or health impacts, including human capital gains and the value of life and health.||Health Care System Savings
|Social impact||Improvements in the health of society, including the well-being of the end user and the community. This may include improved ability to access health care services; to participate socially (including empowerment and participation in decision making) and to quantify improvements in the health of society.||
|Knowledge impact||New knowledge demonstrating the benefits emerging from adoption, adaption or use of new knowledge to inform further research, and/or understanding of what is effective.||