Fast Track Impact

The podcast for researchers who want to be more productive and achieve real-world impacts from their research.
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Fast Track Impact




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May 29, 2019

This week, Mark continues to reframe failure as something that deeply affirms our values and leads to greater meaning and contentment. In part 2, he thinks about how we step back, withdraw from the fight and change tack, drawing on a philosophy of pessimism. This views challenge as a psychological necessity that makes us feel more fully alive, rather constantly looking forward to a time when there will be no suffering or being nostalgic for a lost time before our challenges began. Academic life is fully of rejections, but this episode will help you transform your view of failure to become more resilient. 

May 29, 2019

This week, Mark explores how you can reframe the failures and rejections that are part of everyday academic life as something that deeply affirms our values and leads to greater meaning and contentment. In part 1, he focuses on how we pick our battles and choose to do things that are high risk but high reward in terms of expressing our values, and how to know when to stop fighting a losing battle in line with our values.

Read the some of the tweets quoted at the start of the episode here

May 16, 2019
This week the podcast showcases a personalised approach to impact training being pioneered by Universities of Salford and Warwick. Find out how researcher development and impact teams can co-produce training to meeting key skills gaps on impact as part of a long-term personalised approach to training that enables researchers to build capacity systematically through a three year training plan including targeted workshops and one-to-one coaching. 
Find out more about Davina Whitnalll’s books at
May 1, 2019
This week Mark interviews Jane Mills and Jasmine Black from CCRI at University of Gloucestershire about how they are using social media to generate research impact. They discuss how to build stories and engagement throughout the research process (including before findings are available), how to break into stakeholder networks on Twitter and how to use case studies to evaluate, communicate and build impact online. 
Read their paper: Mills, J, Reed, M, Skaalsveen, K and Ingram, J  The use of Twitter for sustainable soil management knowledge exchange 
Apr 24, 2019

This week Mark considers how we can harness creativity in the research process to derive original insights, and shows how some of the best new ideas arise from the greatest personal and professional challenges. He outlines five practical methods for finding new depths of creativity by embracing and exploring the places we tend to avoid.

Apr 4, 2019

In this second part, Mark discusses a range of practical methods for managing power in meetings and workshops, including methods for opening up the discussion and exploring, methods for analysing and methods for closing down discussion and making decisions

Mar 27, 2019

How to make meetings and workshops with stakeholder and colleagues safe, fun and productive. This week, Mark explains how you can identify and manage power discrepancies in a group to successful manage difficult individuals and situations using subtle cues and three simple techniques. 

Mar 20, 2019

This week, Mark interviews Saskia Walcott, an independent impact expert who has helped researchers generate and evaluate their impact for over 15 years. In this interview, she talks about her research on perceptions of impact and the power of attitudes to shape how we respond to the impact agenda.

Read her blogs linked to this episode:

Mar 11, 2019

This week, Mark gives us an insight into two days of his working week, to illustrate how he puts the lessons from his book, The Productive Researcher, into practice. He illustrates practically how he prioritises based on his values and builds mental health resilience into his working week.

Feb 28, 2019

This week Mark shares three ways to overcome imposter syndrome, based on his own experience battling feelings of inadequacy as a researcher. The first solution is to re-calibrate how you judge yourself to reframe your worth based on your values. The second solution is to re-balance your internal, invisible power with the external, visible power that is given to you by the world. The third solution draws on the previous two to create equally credible, evidence-based alternative narratives to your imposter syndrome narrative.

Dec 17, 2018

This is the third and final part of Mark's series of episodes on getting research into policy, and the last episode of 2018. Building on the ethics and principles from part 1 and interviews in part 2, in this final episode Mark considers practical ways to both inform and influence policy based on reliable evidence from research. He considers how to take a more relational approach to developing a policy brief and how you can make a "pincer movement" to work from both bottom up and top-down to achieve impacts from research in the policy arena. The podcast will be back for more in February 2019.

Dec 14, 2018

In the second of this three-part series on getting your research into policy, Mark interviews a researcher who ended up leading a country's negotiations at a UN summit when the chief negotiator he was advising died, the head of climate science for WFF who has the discomfort of being based in the USA and the head of a global initiative to protect peatlands for UN Environment. All three explain ways you can get your research heard at the highest levels, and it is easier than you might think.

Dec 3, 2018

This week, Mark considers the moral premise of responsible policy engagement and discusses four ways that researchers often inadvertently lose the trust of members of the policy community. Using his four-step check-list, you can make sure your policy engagement is on the right side of your morals and engage more confidently in challenging policy contexts.  

Nov 27, 2018

This week, Mark considers how you can learn from your experience in the lecture theatre to become more effective in your generation of impact, and how impact can inspire better learning and teaching. He also considers how you can evidence pedagogical impacts from your research, and design interventions in the classroom that can affect change well beyond the academy. 

Nov 23, 2018

This week, Mark draws on his experience writing bids, as a reviewer and on funding panels, to explain how to write the impact sections of a grant proposal. Funders are increasingly expecting researchers to consider the likely impact of their work, and increasing weight is being given to impact in funding decisions. So it is worth getting it right...

Nov 15, 2018

This week, Mark considers how researchers can become more authentic, and how this can reduce the likelihood of imposter syndrome and help you grow in confidence. To do this, he discusses the daily practice of letting go of who we think we should be and embracing who we are, having the courage to be imperfect, and the need to cultivate compassion with clear boundaries. 

Nov 8, 2018

This week, Mark interviews Karen Laing, Senior Research Associate and Co-Director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Newcastle University. Karen has been studying co-production manuals and is developing her own guide for researchers who want to work more closely with their publics and stakeholders to co-produce research and impact. Find out more about Karen's work at:

Nov 1, 2018

On Monday this week, Mark was at a Royal Society conference on changing research culture, where he was awarded a prize for changing research culture with colleagues Rich Young and Tanya Collavo. Find out about their idea to create a Tinder for researchers and hear ideas that emerged from the conference via interviews with participants. 

Oct 25, 2018

This week, Mark revisits his most recent book, The Productive Researcher, published a year ago this month. As he has taken the book on the road over the last year, he has been challenged by numerous questions and objections, which he addresses in this episode, giving you a short-cut to the core lessons of the book whilst helping to apply these lessons to some of the more challenging contexts that colleagues have presented him with during trainings. To get your copy of the book, visit

Oct 17, 2018

In this episode, Mark explores how you can become more resilient as a researcher, using grant and publication rejection and workplace bullying as examples. Strategies based on robustness and rapid recovery may work in some circumstances, but adaptive and transformative strategies have the potential to give us longer term resilience to a wider range of unpredictable challenges, in some cases transforming pain into the richest experiences of our careers.

Oct 17, 2018

This week, Mark asks questions that can enable you to achieve impacts from your research that disrupt old ways of doing things and lead to fundamental transformations in organisations and society. Based on different ways of conceptualising resilience, this episode will make you rethink your ambitions for impact to dream bigger and achieve transformational change. 

The questions:

1. How can my research strengthen people and organisations so that they are able to withstand or resist change, and continue to provide or get the outcomes or benefits they need?

2. Can my research enable a person or organisation to change what it does and how it does things so that they can protect their core mission and still achieve the things that are most important to them?

3. How can my research enable people to look completely differently at old problems, or disrupt old ways of doing things, so that people and organisations can do completely new things in new ways that are actually valued more than the old ways of doing things and the things they produced?

4. Can my research help a person or organisation become more robust so they can resist change and maintain what’s most important to them in a changing world?

Oct 8, 2018

This week Mark looks at emerging evidence that the impact agenda is creating institutional cultures that can lead to unintended negative outcomes. What are the motivational levers we can use to inspire colleagues to engage with impact for diverse and healthy reasons, and what mix of extrinsic incentives should accompany such a bottom-up and empathic approach to creating an impact culture? Mark defines three elements of an impact culture and asks practical questions that can enable you to characterise the impact culture of your own group, and decide what strengths you can build on and the things you might want to do differently. 

Sep 27, 2018

This week Mark shows how you can use seven elements of powerful stories to plan for and create impacts that engage and inspire. He uses examples from The Lord of The Rings, and two impact from his own research on peatlands and research impact. The seven points are: 1) Know who you want to benefit and treat them as the “hero” and you as the “guide” in your pathway to impact; 2) identify the external and internal problems your publics and stakeholders face and care about deeply; 3) be a guide who enables your publics and stakeholders to become the hero in their own story; 4) give them a plan to engage more deeply and learn about your work and/or act on what they learn; 5) make a call to action and give people concrete opportunities to put their newfound knowledge into practice; 6) identify what your audience has at stake if they don’t solve the problem - what is the cost of inaction or failure; 7) help people visualise what success might look like for them. To download the publics/stakeholder analysis template mentioned in this episode, visit

Sep 25, 2018

In the first episode of Season 3, Mark shares two new definitions he has developed that will enable you to become crystal clear about what impact is (and is not). He then introduces his impact typology from the second edition of The Research Impact handbook, and explains how you can use it as a checklist to identify impact goals for research proposal and to design an evaluation of your impact that captures the full depth and breadth of benefits that arose from your research. Get your copy of The Research Impact Handbook at: or view online at  

Oct 9, 2017

In this final episode of the second series, Mark interviews Dr Jenn Chubb about how students can generate impact during their PhD. This is a critical look at both the benefits and the challenges of working with publics and stakeholders alongside your PhD, and Mark and Jenn suggest creative ways you can pursue impact without compromising your PhD. 

Read Jenn and Mark's blog, 5 ways to fast track the impact of your PhD:

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