UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Work with us: UCL academics and researchers

The Policy Impact Unit provides professional policy engagement expertise and skills to help increase the use of research-based evidence by policymakers.

Our approach is strategic, being clear about goals and routes to achieving them. But we also understand that there is an art to effective policy engagement; we tailor our tactics to each project.

We know that effective policy engagement takes time, resources and persistence; change rarely comes from a single intervention. We deliver sustained programmes of activity to make a real impact.

By understanding what policy makers need, we can maximise the value of our engagement activities, drawing on multiple research projects to increase the salience and usefulness of our outputs for policymakers.

We know that there is a political dimension to policy making. We take account of political factors in our activities, while always remaining impartial in our approach.

How we work

Our approach to policy impact is to start with an impact objective (that is, to identify the policy change we wish to affect) and to then develop a strategic engagement plan that we think is most likely to lead to this change. We believe that producing policy-facing outputs (such as reports, briefings and events) without a clear objective and strategy is unlikely to deliver quality impact and is therefore likely to result in wasted time and effort.

We are very happy to work with researchers to develop an impact objective and strategic plan before agreeing on which outputs should be produced.

We collaborate with researchers in five main areas:

1. Co-development of research projects: Facilitating engagement between the research and policy communities to develop research questions that have value for both sectors.

2. Scoping and planning: Understanding the policy landscape, identifying opportunities for engagement and developing a strategic approach to deliver impact-related goals.

3. Engagement activities: Designing and delivering engagement activities, including briefings, events and communications activities.

4. Monitoring and evaluation: Developing an indicator set and tracking progress towards impact goals as well as providing input for REF case studies and ResearchFish submissions where appropriate.

5. Training: In partnership with Dr Ine Steenmans (Lecturer in Futures, Analysis and Policy), we have developed a two-hour ‘introduction to policy engagement’ training course.

Work with us

Researchers can collaborate with the Policy Impact Unit by costing our services into grant submissions or paying a day rate.

Working with the PIU [PDF]