Excellence in Impact Awards

O²RB Excellence in Impact Awards 2021

Celebrating outstanding economic and societal impact, the Excellence in Impact Awards are open for nominations from social sciences researchers at any stage of their career from unviersities within the O²RB Partnership: the University of Oxford, the Open University, University of Reading, and Oxford Brookes University.

Up to four prizes of £2,000 will be awarded. The winners will also be given professional assistance to create a video promoting their research impact, and be invited to a celebratory event to be held in October 2021.

Full guidance is provided below, and may also be downloaded here:


Guidance Nominations open: Friday 21 May 2021

Deadline for nominations: 5pm, Friday 25 June 2021.

Guidance and how to apply

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The O²RB awards are designed to build and strengthen partnerships for impact through the University of Oxford’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA). They bring together the research communities of the O²RB partner universities (University of Oxford, The Open University, Reading University and Oxford Brookes University) to celebrate and share their collective research impact successes.

The first O²RB Excellence in Impact Awards took place in 2018 and gave direct recognition to the successes of social science researchers who had achieved excellent economic and societal impacts through their research. Please see information about the 2018 winners here. The awards did not take place as planned in 2020 due to Covid-19 but are returning in 2021.

Up to four prizes of £2,000 will be awarded. The winners will also each be given professional assistance to create a video promoting their research impact and will be invited to a celebratory event to be held in October/November 2021.

  • The deadline for nominations is 17:00 on 25th June 2021.
  • Eligible impacts will have occurred in the period since January 2018.
  • Nominees and nominators (where applicable) will be notified of the outcome by 30th July 2021.
  • An award ceremony will be held in Oxford in October/November 2021.
  • You can nominate yourself / your team, or you can nominate someone else.
  • The competition is open to all social science researchers and their non-academic partners, not just those funded by the ESRC. However, the research must be within the ESRC’s remit.
  • Cross/inter-disciplinary researchers or multi-disciplinary teams can apply if at least 50% of the research is social sciences.
  • Nominations are welcome for individuals or teams.
  • Members of the University of Oxford, The Open University, Reading University and Oxford Brookes University may apply as lead nominees.
  • Researchers from other universities (outside the O²RB partnership) may not apply for an individual award but can be included as a co-nominees in a team nomination, where they are collaborating with researchers from one of the O²RB universities.
  • Researchers at any career stage, including fixed-term researchers and early career researchers, may apply. Professional staff and doctoral students can be included as co-nominees but cannot apply for an individual award.
  • Nominees may enter more than once (up to a maximum of three), but each nomination must refer to distinct impacts or engagement activities.
  • Previous winners can submit new nominations. Previously unsuccessful nominees can re-submit an updated nomination where the impact has substantially changed since the previous nomination (taking into account the updated impact period).

The prizes will recognise significant and demonstrable impacts from outstanding social science research that has made a contribution to society and the economy (i.e. not just to academia) in the period since January 2018. Up to four prizes of £2,000 will be awarded.

There are no sub-categories this year. Entries may include examples of (but are not limited to):

  • impact and engagement activity based in any geographic region of the world, or across multiple regions
  • impact with business and enterprise, including direct impacts benefitting individual organisations, groups or sectors through innovation and changing practices, or through capacity building and training
  • contributions to the development of public policy, at the local, regional, national or international level
  • benefits provided to a specific group of the public or society more widely, including through engaging local or community groups, charities and civil society
  • instrumental impacts that have changed a policy, reshaped service provision, altered legislation or changed behaviour, health or wellbeing
  • engagement activities that have changed perceptions, reframed debate or led to cultural enrichment
  • activities that have influenced the work and skills of a range of practitioners, e.g. lawyers, teachers, social workers, or built capacity within a certain group of society
  • professional and specialist staff, as co-nominees, who have supported researchers to deliver impact, either with a direct role in a project team or as part of the support structure of their university

Entries should be supported by evidence corroborating the impacts claimed (see below).

All nominations should show how they meet the assessment criteria:

  • a demonstrable link between the research and the impact identified during the eligible period
  • how the nominee(s) played an active role in making the impact happen
  • how the nominee(s) worked collaboratively with non-academic partners to achieve this
  • how the pathway to impact involved innovative application of social sciences research to respond to real-world challenges
  • the extent and significance of the impact from the beneficiaries’ point of view
  • how well the nominee(s) responded to challenges including failures, unanticipated opportunities and other necessary changes of plan
  • the potential for other researchers to learn and be inspired by this impact

Nominations will be assessed through peer review by a panel of academics and engagement and knowledge exchange experts. All nominees and nominators (where applicable) will be notified of the outcome of their nomination by 30th July 2021.

Winners will be able to spend their prize money within a 12-month period, to develop knowledge exchange, public engagement or other communications activities to promote the economic and social impacts of their research. Winners will be expected to inform the University of Oxford ESRC IAA team how the prize money is being used and report back on impacts generated.

For team winners the prize money will be awarded to the team as a whole, with the department of the lead nominee responsible for financial management.

The prize money will be awarded to the nominee(s) as a grant managed via their university department/ faculty and not as an individual payment. Funding can be used for travel, event costs, print and design costs, casual RA time and other professional fees (e.g. photography, web design and other technical work). Academic salary costs and overheads are not eligible costs.

Please complete the nomination form at this link. You may want to draft your answers in a Word document first.

  • Only nominations that are submitted using the online form will be accepted.
  • Please make sure your IAA institutional contact (see below) is aware of your submission.
  • Completed forms must be received no later than 17:00 on 25th June 2021.

Nominee details

  • Name, affiliation and email address
  • Early career status (if applicable)
  • Details of co-nominees
  • Nominator’s details (if not self-nominating)
  • Confirmation that nominee agrees to be nominated (where applicable)

Your impact

  • Title of your submission (15 words max)
  • Summary (150 words max)
    Provide a short summary of why the nominee should win this award, explaining succinctly the impact achievements.
  • Details of grants or funded activities linked to the nomination, where this is relevant (150 words max).
  • The research upon which the nominee’s impact is based (250 words max).
    Describe the research underpinning the nominee’s impact and engagement activities. Include information on the research questions, approach, design and principal findings.
  • Publications (up to 5)
    Include up to five academic publications relating to the research described in the previous section. Publications will be regarded commensurate with career level expectations.
  • Details of the impacts and how they came about (500 words max)
    Describe how the nominee’s research made a difference and to whom. Include specific evidence and an indication of the extent and significance of the impact from the point of view of the beneficiaries. Describe what the nominee did to enable the impact to happen and show how the nomination meets the assessment criteria.
  • Challenges encountered and how the nominee responded to them (150 words)
  • Your Head of Department must endorse your nomination. You will confirm this by checking the box on the nomination form and including their name and contact details.
  • A web-link to the nominee’s latest online academic biography must be included in the nomination form.
  • Please provide links to any publicly available sources of evidence corroborating the impact, along with a list of other sources that are not publicly available. The combined list should include not more than 10 items. Sources may be citations in (non-academic) reports or media, testimonials, qualitative feedback, quantitative data, etc.
  • Please provide a brief summary of how you would spend the prize money. This will be used by the IAA team in order to ensure proper use of prize monies, according to funder terms and conditions.

By submitting a nomination form to the O²RB Excellence in Impact Awards, you declare that the nomination has been completed fully and correctly at the time of submission, and agree that the nominee and any co-nominees accept the following terms and conditions:

  • Winners’ names, affiliations and details of their impact provided in the nomination form will be published.
  • Any photos, video and quotes taken from the nomination process and event may be used in any literature or promotional activities created by the organisers.
  • To work with the organisers to develop publicity material, on request.
  • If asked, to endeavour to attend events in your University and across the O²RB partnership to promote impact throughout the 12-month period following the nomination process.
  • To keep the organisers informed of any changes in contact details and of any press releases that are issued related to the impact for the next 18 months.
  • Reasonable travel costs related nominees’ attendance at the prize ceremony will be reimbursed as per the University of Oxford travel and subsistence guidelines, if and when previously agreed with the organisers.

We will use the data provided in your nomination form to record and review the nomination; to contact nominees and nominators with information and communications related to the prizes; to liaise with award winners to support the creation of their winners’ videos; and to coordinate the arrangements for the prize-giving event. We will also retain your data so that we can keep in touch about how any prize funding has been spent and to support reporting on this to the ESRC. Your data (name, department/faculty, impact title and summary) may be used to identify your project, including on webpages displaying successful nominations in the University of Oxford Social Sciences Division and departments. We may also use your data in publicity or promotional material related to the O²RB Excellence in Impact Prize, including on University websites. Access to nominee data will be provided to those within the University who need to view it as part of their work in carrying out the purposes described above. It will also be provided confidentially to the members of the O²RB Prize Steering Group who are based at our partner organizations (The Open University, University of Reading and Oxford Brookes University), for the purposes of review. We will only retain your data for as long as we need it to meet our purposes, including any relating to legal, accounting, or reporting requirements. If you wish to ask any questions about our use of your data please contact us at esrciaa@socsci.ox.ac.uk. You can also contact the University’s Data Protection Officer at dataprotection@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Contact us

For more information about the O²RB Excellence in Impact Awards, please contact your local support in the first instance:

University of Oxford | Becky Launchbury, ESRC IAA Manager, esrciaa@socsci.ox.ac.uk

The Open University | Muriel E Swijghuisen Reigersberg, Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange Senior Manager, muriel.swijghuisenreigersberg@open.ac.uk

University of Reading | Ruth Pugh, Impact Development Manager, r.pugh@reading.ac.uk

Oxford Brookes University | Dana Vilistere, Research Impact Officer, dvilistere@brookes.ac.uk

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