F5. Emphasise the importance of dissemination and impact

By their very nature, research projects that involve CSOs are likely to produce results that are of interest to wider civil society. Due to their existing connections and networks CSOs are often well placed to assist in disseminating such findings, however they frequently have little incentive to publish academically, and may not have the resources centrally to support dedicated dissemination efforts outside the main project.

To ensure project findings are disseminated as effectively as possible to civil society, funders could:

  • Provide dedicated funding to support CSOs in widely disseminating the project findings outside the academic community, especially once a project has finished.

  • Encourage long-term impact and follow up activities (including advocacy and dissemination of results) by making such efforts a requirement for project proposals.

  • Provide follow-on funding for successful projects. The European Research Council’s Proof of Concept grants could serve as an example of how such follow-on funding could be shaped.

  • Ensure that project results don't just disappear following the end of the project and facilitate the exchange of results and work between past, current and future projects.

Guiding Questions

Funders who are considering encouraging the involvement of CSOs in research projects should consider:

    • Are the expectations regarding dissemination and impact clear, in particular with regard to the potential role that CSOs could play? In particular, are the financial expectations and regulations likely to assist in encouraging better commitment to wide distribution of project findings, including the involvement of CSOs in such processes?

    • Are there alternative funding mechanisms that can better embed achievement and monitoring of research impacts over time?

    • Is it appropriate to ring-fence a certain proportion of the budget for these purposes?

Example: Disseminating beyond the life-time of a project

CONSIDER’s research has shown that CSOs have been instrumental in disseminating research results as they unfold during the course of a project, or in raising awareness of the project itself within their communities of interest. However, such dissemination usually ends when the project ends because of lack of continued funding and therefore focus. Given that many projects only achieve their main results towards the end of the project life-cycle, this means that the CSOs only have a very limited window of opportunity for dissemination and that arguably a much greater impact could be achieved if such dissemination work was able to continue for longer. As such funders ought to consider ways of providing extra funding that can allow CSOs to continue their dissemination efforts in order for the work to have continued impact.

'Everything we find out is disseminated in academia but also into society. It’s a big part of the research, a big part of why we got the grant money in the first place. So creating value for society'. (Researcher)