Walcott Communications enables researchers to develop the skills, tools, techniques and mindset to create the essential relationships and opportunities to generate meaningful social and economic impact from research.
Today researchers are expected to understand and be able to identify pathways to impact, to communicate the outcomes of research to the right audiences, in the right way and at the right time, whilst also putting in place mechanisms to capture evidence of their impact journey.
Walcott Communications can help you to develop the right impact strategy, support delivery of pathways to impact and provide vital training and advice.
I founded Walcott Communications in 2010 in recognition of a need to provide a straightforward approach to communication and knowledge exchange that helps to build the skills of researchers in the higher education sector.
After 17 years' experience in senior roles in the HE sector, I appreciate the challenges facing researchers to realise and demonstrate research impact, together with their concerns about accurately communicating findings.
Walcott Communications offers a mix of strategic consultancy, institutional reviews and impact evaluation, alongside training workshops and facilitation services to plan, support, track and evaluate the journey from research through to knowledge exchange and eventual impact.
If you want to hear more about my experience as a black woman in research management listen to this podcast interview with Lachlan Smith and Jakob Christensen (September 2020)
Walcott Communications offers a mix of strategic consultancy for higher education institutions, training and support in audience communication and knowledge exchange skills for researchers. I also work directly with research teams to develop and implement plans to maximise opportunities to achieve social and economic impact of research findings and provide ongoing monitoring and evaluation reviews.
Training is now delivered on-line and is individually tailored to meet your needs.I am happy to discuss options.
Here are some case studies from a selection of clients.
Building skills and knowledge
Training workshops that cover:
Introduction to impact and pathways to impact
Planning for impact: tools and techniques
Contact me to discuss individually tailored training sessions.
OPTIMISING Research excellence framework (rEF) IMPACT
Support and advice
Impact case study writing workshops
One-to-one case study development
Critical friend feedback for draft impact case studies
Editing and polishing of existing case studies
Strategic planning and collaborative partnerships
Planning and organising of facilitated group events
Strategic planning exercises
STRATEGIC REVIEWS AND EVALUATION
What works and why
Institutional reviews of procedures and processes that support impact
Evaluation of outcomes and impacts
A sample of successfully completed projects delivered by Walcott Communications.
university of OXFORD
Creative Industries workshop formulation and faciliation
The University was seeking to engender collaborative relationships between its Arts and Humanities departmental faculty and local creative industries. The University was particularly interested in opportunities available in the digital futures and storytelling space.
The brief for Walcott Communications, together with Janet Wilkinson from 3x3 Consulting, was to examine these mechanisms via a series of specifically tailored and facilitated workshops aimed at bringing the two groups together and formulating joint projects honed for submission for seed-funding at the end of the process. Four of the projects were successful and awarded funding.
“We found that Saskia and Janet were keenly suited for this role bringing to bear a wealth of experience of facilitation, in-depth knowledge of the HE sector and most importantly an understanding of the challenges of knowledge exchange from both the academic and business perspectives...It was clear throughout the process that having their expertise and experience on hand gave us the freedom, as research managers, to actively engage in conversations and ensure follow-up activity could be achieved whilst Saskia and Janet advised, planned, delivered and reported back. The pilot was a success and we look forward to working with Walcott Communications again in the future to build an effective and vibrant creative industry network in Oxford.”
Imelda Dooley-Hunter, Creative Industries Officer, University of Oxford.
birmingham city university
Ongoing impact case study advice and development
Walcott Communications was commissioned by the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at BCU on an ongoing basis since 2016 to support the researchers in the development of their impact case studies. The process involves identifying and advising the management team on how to recognise the optimal case studies for the REF from the broad pool available and provide bespoke input, on a one-to-one basis, with study authors to enable them to clearly and succinctly articulate impact and establish what supporting evidence is most appropriate.
university of HONG KONG
Support for RAE 2020
Walcott Communications was a member of a consortium of UK consultants engaged by Hong Kong University to advise on the preparation of impact case studies for the territory’s Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2020. The University Grants Committee (UGC) which oversees the RAE introduced an impact assessment similar to the UK Research Excellence Framework in 2014 (REF 2014).
“Walcott Communications was able to assist our colleagues to assess and review our pool of draft impact case studies based on best practice from REF2014. Saskia met individually with the case study authors and provided invaluable advice on how to articulate the impact and how to use narrative and evidence to best effect. She was well-informed and was able to quickly process information from across a wide range of disciplines to give precise, frank and insightful comments. Having a fresh and informed review resulted in some case study authors rethinking and taking an entirely fresh approach to their case study. Hong Kong University would recommend Saskia as a research impact consultant.”
University of Hong Kong
Design and facilitation of early career research impact workshops
As part of Stirling University’s annual 2-day residential ‘Scottish Crucible’ skills lab, Walcott Communications was contracted to design and run a research impact module for academic staff on 3 occasions. The Crucible Programme is designed to encourage and advance early career researchers to widen networks, enhance skills and communicate research to different audiences and forms part of a series of training events, including the research impact component.
“Saskia worked with the University of Stirling to deliver bespoke training on research impact during our internal Stirling Crucible programme. Saskia has twice facilitated a 2-day session on the topic of ‘Research Impact’ (all cohorts of our Stirling Crucible programme to date). Saskia did an incredible job, and provided content which was engaging, credible and well-informed.
The feedback received from participants was overwhelmingly positive. Saskia is a pleasure to work with and I thoroughly recommend her!”
Katharine Reibig, Research Development Manager, University of Stirling
Collaborative impact case study development with the Management School
Walcott Communications was asked to work closely with researchers based in the Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) to guide them in the development of the scope and scale of its impact case studies. The collaboration with both early stage researchers, as well as experienced faculty, focused on the identification of evidence types, what information would be appropriate for inclusion, as well as strategic, objective recommendations on areas which might necessitate effective reworking for the most meaningful impact. The input received positive feedback from participants and was widely well received.
“All of our researchers, without exception felt motivated by the input and opportunities they saw following their meeting with Saskia...she provided thoughtful reflections and valuable recommendations that enable us to plan our way forward both individually and collectively for our faculty. Saskia has an ability to both engage with the particularities and concrete situations of each research project, and the ability to stand back and take a strategic view on the strengths and ways forward for a group. This is an unusual skill and highly valued by our community. I can highly recommend Walcott Communications.” Professor Katy Mason, Lancaster University Management School.
University of Bristol
Strategy review of a virtual research centre
Walcott Communications was commissioned to assess whether there was value in maintaining a virtual research centre in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law.
Employing a mixture of qualitative interviewing and desk-based research, Walcott Communications produced a report recommending the institute be dissolved and replaced with a more inclusive structure that better represented the breadth of excellent social policy research at the university.
The report was well received and an internal working group was set up to take forward the recommendations. As a result, Policy Bristol was launched to support the communication of the University of Bristol’s policy-relevant research.
Developing an impact strategy
Walcott Communications in partnership with associate, Nicola Mitchell, was invited to assist Northumbria University to initiate what was at the time one of the first university-wide research impact strategies in the UK.
Working closely with members of the senior team, we designed and facilitated a series of workshops to explore the university’s ambitions and the challenges it faced in attempting to embed impact in its research activities. Recognising that research impact is essentially culture change, we involved groups at all levels of the university to gain an understanding of what was needed.
The University of Northumbria's impact strategy now informs individual faculty and central support implementation plans.
Research Councils UK
Developing impact case studies
RCUK commissioned Walcott Communications to design, research and write 60 case studies that illustrated how researchers across its diverse research base are approaching and realising Pathways to Impact.
The bank of case studies on the RCUK website is a resource for those who are thinking about writing a Pathways to Impact statement. It provides top tips, ideas, inspiration and advice from experienced researchers.
“Walcott Communications has helped RCUK to create a unique resource for the research community. It was a challenging task but working with Saskia was an easy experience as she understood what we needed, but also what the researchers required from the process. The end result speaks for itself.”Alexandra Saxon, Head of Communications, RCUK
University of Essex
Helping academics to create and demonstrate impact with policy makers
Walcott Communications organised a successful dissemination event for the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex to raise awareness of the team’s research to a national policy-orientated audience.
The research team wanted to engage with policy makers and organisations in the third sector but did not have the right established contacts. Working closely with the in-house communications manager, Walcott Communications planned a dissemination event in central London, creating a highly targeted guest list bringing together some of leading commentators on breastfeeding and created plain-English research summaries for the audience.
As a result the research team established an important policy contact and opened dialogue with influential and relevant third sector organisations.