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Pathways to impact in the pandemic

A rapid review of COVID-19-related research engagement strategies in low- and middle-income country settings
Humanities Arts and Social Science (HASS) Research engagement Research impact Evidence-based policy COVID-19 Pandemics
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Implementing and ascertaining impact and outcomes of research is a prolonged process that may take several years due to complexities in bureaucratic, social, and economic systems. At the macro level, collective reflection on the different methods and approaches that research projects use to promote uptake and impact is rare but has potential to encourage learning and exchanges between different funders and projects around impact pathways as useful road maps for research.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of research – while it has increased the demand for evidence to inform decision-making, it has further disrupted both the policy-influencing and engagement activities that would usually accompany such research. This report is based on an analysis of 90 research projects supported by the Covid Collective, COVID CIRCLE and Covid Response for Equity (CORE) initiatives. It provides an overview and insight into how different funders and initiatives were working to facilitate change in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In line with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) definitions of ‘impact’, and subsequent work by the ESRC-FCDO’s (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) Impact Initiative, four categories were used to map the emerging outcomes and different types of change. These outcome areas comprise capacity, networks, conceptual and instrumental outcomes.

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