The Impact Initiative: how legacy services can support your research outputs

Photo: © Institute of Development Studies  (IDS).

Mar 2018

A key aspect of the Impact Initiative’s work is to ensure that research reaches the right people to help inform decision making. In a strand of our work that we call “legacy services”, we identify outputs - including reports, papers and briefings - and publish them in an open access repository. Storing the documents in this way has lots of benefits including:

  • It allows full text downloads of the research – unless copyright protected.

  • Special technical design makes documents more easily found through google searches.

  • Unlike project websites these documents will remain visible and online indefinitely even after programme web resources have ceased to be supported.

  • Site analytics allow us to identify page views and see what is being downloaded each month and from where in the world.

  • Over time we anticipate our legacy services increasing awareness of this body of research and driving up both academic citations and access by policy and practitioner audiences.

The Impact Initiative collection currently includes 315 documents. Since its launch the collection has been accessed by a global audience almost 300, 000 times. 

Collectively Sabina Alkire and colleagues working on multi-dimensional poverty indices, partly funded by the ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation, are among the most downloaded and viewed documents in the collection. In the past six months they have generated 10, 808 page views and over 4, 000 downloads.

But for us publishing outputs in an open access repository is not enough. Just because research is available does not mean that people will automatically read it.

To help pull out some of the key messages, and to make the research more accessible, The Impact Initiative also delivers a range of synthesis products, including the ESRC-DFID Research for Policy and Practice: Disability and Education which has been the most downloaded document from the open collection in the past six months with 1,504 downloads.

Meanwhile short, focused impact stories such as Keeping African Girls in School with Better Sanitary Care showcases a rich source of development research evidence. In the first week of it being published it attracted almost 500 downloads from the open access collection.

We believe that in extending the reach and life of these outputs we can increase the potential impact that the research can have. To find out more about how your research can be included and promoted through this free and open collection please email us.

The Impact Initiative blog posts are either from individual researchers or from major research programmes. Some of the blog posts are original source and are written by researchers and experts connected to the two research programmes jointly funded by ESRC and DFID: the Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research and the Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme. Other blog posts are imported from related websites and programmes. 

The views expressed in these blogs reflect the opinions of each individual and may not represent the Institute of Development Studies, the University of Cambridge, ESRC or DFID.


The Impact Initiative welcomes comments.  To enable a healthy environment for discussion we reserve the rights to remove comments if they are considered abusive or disruptive. All comments are reactively moderated. This means that comments are usually only checked if a complaint is made about them.