Science impact writing: the new grant writing - Research Stories
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impact writing

Science impact writing: the new grant writing

Sharon Smit

Written by: Sharon Smit

Science funders embrace societal impact

Researchers are becoming more aware of the importance of the impact chapter in their academic funding applications. Science funders, like NWO or EU programmes like Horizon Europe, have increased the importance of societal impact from science. When applying for funding, the societal impact paragraph is one better to take seriously.

Impact writing is fundamentally different from academic writing

Grant writing as such, comes with a specific set of writing skills. These differ from what most researchers have obtained in their academic writing career. Funding support officers and grant writing courses train you in presenting your research a bit differently then what you are used to when writing academic papers. Impact narrative writing requires similar to grant writing a different approach than academic writing.

Writing for a wider audience

Before we share the building blocks needed to write an impactful story, an important thought experiment is to define who your audience is. A sound stakeholder definition will help you to closely look at your research from the perspective of the end-user. Knowing your stakeholder’s or end-user’s needs, questions or desires help you to choose which parts of your research approach or results to highlight.

Building blocks for impact writing

In contrary to academic writing, in which the methodology is an important part of the story, in impact writing we leave the methodology out. Also, in academic writing we build the story up to the main findings, while in impact writing the main findings are the starting point of the story. The following elements should be covered when showcasing your research to a non-academic audience:

  • What the urgency of the matter is – Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is estimated to effect up to one in three people.
  • How you address this urgency – The Liver Investigation Research Programme develops new ways to diagnose the disease.
  • How your research brings new insights to the urgency – Research validates and qualifies better diagnostic tests which help to target care at an early stage of the disease to the people who are going to be most severely affected.
  • Who you collaborate with in your research (both academic and outside academia) –  The Liver Investigation Research Programme brings together 47 academic and non-academic partners, such as international universities, global pharmaceutical companies and patient organisations to improve early diagnosis of NAFLD.

Showcasing specific engagement activities in the field support the story. If showcasing is only limited to a limited number of activities, using a strong quote from an interview could be as supportive. Remember to keep a wider audience in mind and avoid jargon. Make sure to support your story with powerful data visualisations, that is designed with the end-user in mind.

Want to give it a try? The first 4 responses will receive a free review! And in line with creating impact, we will showcase the 4 winners on ResearchStories soon! You can send your impact story to