International principles of social impact assessment: Lessons for research?

Julie Taylor, Caroline Bradbury-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The ability and importance of being able to demonstrate how research has benefited humankind has been a by-product of global assessment exercises and has attracted only marginal interest. However, with the introduction of new indicators for ‘what counts’ in research, impact has now entered centre-stage. Nursing ought to have little problem with the concept of impact: we should be able to demonstrate the influence of nursing research on culture, health, society, policy (etc.) in a way that might be more difficult for disciplines that are less applied. Whilst the international principles of impact assessment are quite familiar to those working in the third sector and are encouraged by governments across the world, academic disciplines in general – and possibly nursing in particular – appear to lag behind in knowledge of these principles. Moreover, on examination, nursing has much that is congruent with the principles, but so far has left these unstated. In this paper we explore potential lessons from the principles of social impact assessment for nursing research. We use illustrative examples from our own area of expertise – child protection – but the principles apply across all substantive topics. Social impact assessment is underpinned by four principles that we explore first: the precautionary principle; then the principles of intergenerational equity; multisectoral integration; and subsidiarity. We go on to unpack the seven focus areas of impact assessment to demonstrate how these could be articulated within nursing research. Finally, we offer some pointers as to how nurse researchers might begin to assess and measure the social value of interventions and services through the framework of Social Return on Investment. Impact mapping can make useful delineation between outputs, outcomes and impact and as a framework, social impact assessment has much positive guidance to offer nursing research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Child Protection
  • Impact statements
  • Research assessment
  • Social impact assessment
  • Social return on investment


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