Alistair Brown has written an interesting post on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog – Proving dissemination is only one half of your impact story: Twitter provides proof of real-time engagement with the public. The post highlights the case of how a journal paper was picked up by a university media office, which ended in the author being interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. As part of this Alistair highlights that:
REF impact involves an assessment of “significance” as well as “reach,” so the mere fact that research has been disseminated to a wide audience does not constitute an impact by itself; one has also to show the effect it has on those to whom it is disseminated. For this reason, citing the fact that a researcher has appeared on a primetime radio show with several million potential listeners might be one element of an impact statement, but one needs also to evidence that the audience has actively listened to what was being put out, and that it has affected, changed or benefitted them in some way
In the age of the second screen Alistair goes on to highlight how Twitter can be used as evidence of engagement, listeners tweeting personal reflections, feedback or just disseminating the information more widely. But as Alistair points out:
When a piece of academic work receives broadcast media coverage, then, it is useful to have a strategy in place to gather emerging responses, and it is also far easier to do this as it happens rather than retrospectively.
A strategy is required because, as Alistair points, out the Twitter search is limited to the last 7 days. While there are ways to view this activity in realtime how do you capture the evidence. Here’s my response to the problem:
Here is the spreadsheet template I mention. So have you got a strategy for recording impact evidence from Twitter?