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Optimising Your Impact Case Studies (ICS)

ImpactReviewer is part of the Vertigo Ventures ImpactEcosystem.

It helps organisations and individuals to maximise the quality of their Impact Case Studies (ICS) and optimises the ICS review process.

What is an Impact Case Study (ICS)?

An Impact Case Study (ICS) is a document produced by individuals and organisations to demonstrate their research impact. Although there are variations in form and structure depending on where the ICS is required, an Impact Case Study typically consists of a limited number of pages, and includes a narrative statement and evidence to support the impact that is claimed.

There are numerous libraries of ICS examples published worldwide – one example is on the website of the UGC (University Grants Commission) in Hong Kong, which contains the Impact Case Studies that were submitted to the country’s 2020 Research Assessment Exercise.

Research impact continues to grow worldwide in provenance. Many countries have either already adopted research impact frameworks for purposes such as national assessments, or started investigations into how to introduce and manage impact into the higher education space and beyond.

In countries where impact is assessed, the Impact Case Study is the most common requirement to demonstrate how organisations and individuals have made social, economic, environmental, cultural or other impact.

Some of the countries that have either adopted or investigated Impact Case Studies or another include:

Impact Case Studies (ICS) around the World

Australia Engagement and Impact Assessment (EI)


The EIA (Engagement & Impact Assessment) launched as a component to the ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) exercise in 2018, in which 637 Impact Case Studies were submitted – and 43% deemed to be of High quality in the Australia ICS grading system. The next EIA takes place in 2024.

Hong Kong Research Assessment Exercise (RAE)

Hong Kong

The RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) closely follows the model of the UK’s REF. In RAE 2020, 342 Impact Case Studies were submitted, of which 264 were deemed to be either 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent).

Poland Research Impact Assessment (RIA)


The pilot REE (Research Evaluation Exercise), also based on the UK’s REF, was completed in early 2022. A total of 2,661 Impact Case Studies were submitted and now published.

New Zealand Flag

New Zealand

The PBRF (Performance-Based Research Fund) 2025 Quality Evaluation will include impact for the first time; for Crown Research Institutes (CRIs), annual impact case studies are required for the SSIF (Strategic Science Investment Fund).

Sweden Flag


In the Linnaeus Grant centre of excellence programme carried out by the Swedish Research Council and Formas, participant institutions were asked to write one case study (based on the UK’s Research Excellence Framework, REF) to demonstrate societal impact. 

United Kingdom (UK) Research Excellence Framework (REF)

United Kingdom

The REF (Research Excellence Framework) pioneered the use of Impact Case Studies and impact assessment in 2014; 6,781 ICS were submitted to the REF 2021, of which 78.9% were judged to be either 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent).

Impact Case Study Optimisation

ImpactReviewer is cloud-based software that can be used to improve the quality of Impact Case Studies and automate the peer review process.

Producing high-quality ICS can be difficult for institutions, even if these are rated highly – the process from inception through to writing, reviewing and improving has many stakeholders. These range from researchers and Impact Officers to Research Directors and external experts – and even to senior management level for final decision-making.

ImpactReviewer allows the links between the underpinning research and the impact narratives, along with the accompanying evidence items as references to impact; to be reviewed, assessed and moderated.

The moderated feedback is then automatically provided directly to the initial author for amendments or enhancements to be made; with the aim of ensuring the Impact Case Studies are in the best position possible, in advance of the relevant national assessment submission.

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Impact Ecosystem

Client Feedback

“ImpactReviewer worked really well – it provided consistency across our case studies”

“IR’s review process made for a fairer analysis of case studies”

“The product formalises feedback processes and is therefore accepted better by academics”


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