Internet Explorer is no longer supported by Microsoft. To browse the NIHR site please use a modern, secure browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

The five most common impact mistakes in NIHR applications


Published: 05 July 2019

Version: 1.0 - July 2019

Print this document

We reviewed the dissemination and engagement plans from 20 randomly selected applications to the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) and NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) funding programmes. 

These are the five most common mistakes made by researchers planning for impact and knowledge mobilisation in their applications for NIHR funding. Read more from the NIHR about how to plan for research impact.

Not including the right co-applicants with the right knowledge and networks

You need people who are deeply embedded in places where your research can make a difference and/or those who know how to make change happen.

Include co-applicants from outside academia with the right networks and knowledge of how to influence your target organisations and/ or those who know how to make change happen.

Unbalanced research teams

You need AT LEAST TWO well placed patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) representatives and professionals from provider, commissioning or third sector organisations.

Balance the research team – include at least 2 research users as co-applicants to help transform your findings into practical knowledge.

Inappropriate delegation of dissemination and engagement to PPIE reps or project managers

Well-networked senior team members, preferably from outside academia, are much more likely to have the connections and influence needed.

Choose dissemination and engagement leads with the right networks and level of influence – preferably from outside academia.

Over-reliance on written documents

Conversations make a difference – much more than reports, articles and summaries. Tap into networks, attend meetings, give workshops, meet for coffee…

Talk about your research, rather than relying on written documents to spread your message.

Not enough resource given to dissemination and engagement

Consider allocating up to 10% of the grant in money & time in addition to costs of PPIE, papers & conferences. Read our guidance on costing for knowledge mobilisation activities.

This exercise was carried out in April 2019 by Lesley Wye, Consultant in Knowledge Mobilisation. A full report is available. Please contact: