D2 - Supporting researcher development: Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge approaches to using the Impact Framework as a tool for practical evaluation and programme development

Day 2 at 13:45 - In the post-Roberts era, evaluation is taking a lead role in helping research institutions measure the quality of provision and enhance the support and training of researchers. In 2011, the Postdoc Development Centre (PDC) at Imperial College London conducted a comprehensive impact evaluation of its service provision, using Vitae's Impact Framework as a basis for its methodology. The evaluation identified areas of success and good practice; areas for potential development and practical, data informed recommendations for future growth. It also generated a system for ongoing evaluation. In 2012, the Researcher Development Committee at the University of Cambridge initiated a university wide evaluation project to help inform future researcher development provision and assess quality and impact. The project included the development and implementation of a sustainable evaluation framework which was inspired by Vitae's Impact Framework. One specific focus of the evaluation project included longitudinal impact evaluation studies for multi-day programmes aimed at PhD students. Key findings from the research helped further enhance the programmes and measure the benefits of the training. This 80 minute interactive workshop helped participants to develop robust and sustainable evaluation strategies for researcher development programmes and initiatives. It examined the benefits and challenges of using the Impact Framework to evaluate researcher development activity, key findings from the projects underway were discussed and discussion was generated about how this methodology could be taken forward to evaluate researcher training and development provision at other institutions. Strand - All Researchers (practice).
Day Day 2
Session D
Start time 13:45
Strand All Researchers (practice)
Code D2

Ms Natacha Wilson - Evaluation Associate and a project lead at Personal and Professional Development (PPD), University of Cambridge

Ms Katie Anders - Consultant, Postdoc Development Centre (PDC), Imperial College London

Topics covered:

The workshop included the following  two parts:

1. A short, interactive presentation of the Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge evaluation studies. This included:

  • an overview of what the Impact Framework is, and how it informed the evaluation studies at Imperial and Cambridge
  • an exploration of the key benefits and challenges of using the Impact Framework to evaluate researcher development programmes
  • key findings from the evaluation studies, and how these can feed into future programme development
  • whole group discussion to elicit and share views and experiences of participants who have initiated/conducted evaluative studies at their institutions, or are thinking of doing so.

 2. An interactive session of small group discussions and whole group feedback:

  • small group sessions where participants identified possibilities for conducting evaluation at their institutions
  • whole group feedback session, where strategies were shared and good practices identified and discussed within the small group sessions.

Workshop outcomes:


  • gained insight from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge on approaches to using the Impact Framework to evaluate postgraduate and postdoctoral development programmes
  • explored the wider role of evaluation in shaping future researcher development activities
  • identified ways of evaluating provision across institutions
  • became part of a network / forum for sharing experiences and good practice.  Participants were asked to bring any examples of service evaluation conducted at their institutions for comparison.


Presentation/small group discussion/whole group feedback.