With his long term commitment over successive research initiatives to maximising impact opportunities for his own research and that of colleagues and collaborators, Professor Charlie Jeffery, ESRC Impact Champion of 2015 is a model of leadership in the social sciences.
- As Director of the ESRC Devolution and Constitutional Change Programme (DCC), Professor Charlie Jeffery ensured the impact of 150 researchers by establishing relationships of confidence and trust with key research users. He worked with think tanks to extend the reach of research into policy audiences, and ensured that DCC research set the agenda for all the official devolution enquiries and commissions launched during the programme's life.
- Professor Jeffery advised the Commission on Scottish Devolution (2008-9), the Scotland Bill Committee of the Scottish Parliament (2011-12) and served as a member of the McKay Commission on the West Lothian Question (2012-14).
- Professor Jeffery has enabled researchers – many in the early stages of their career – to shape wider public and media debate. For example, while Co-ordinator of the ESRC Future of UK and Scotland (FUS) programme his 60-strong research team was recognised as a key source of impartial expertise by business, voluntary sector and media users as well as the general public.
- During his career, Professor Jeffery has developed effective communications methods, including highly innovative and interactive forms of online communication. The FUS programme had an extraordinary public reach with some 40,000 website visits per month, more than 100,000 downloads of the e-book Scotland’s Decision, and 10,000 people participating in a real time six-week MOOC (massive open online course) in the weeks before and after the referendum.
"It is no exaggeration to say that Charlie Jeffery has played an utterly transformative role – transforming both opportunities and attitudes towards impact – among a whole cadre of academics across the UK, myself among their number." (Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Director of the Wales Governance Centre and Dean of Public Affairs, University of Cardiff)
About Professor Jeffery’s work
As the 2014 Scottish Referendum approached, Professor Charlie Jeffery and his research team were providing impartial analysis and political commentary to more than 430 news platforms and reaching an audience tens of millions strong - an achievement underpinned by more than 25 years’ experience in maximising impact opportunities.
"The key is to remember that impact is not an add-on to research, but central to what we as researchers do," Professor Jeffery points out. "Doing impact well depends on accumulating a stock of academic expertise and then carefully and tactfully building the goodwill and trust of the potential users of that research. Using the possibilities offered by digital communications, it's possible for social sciences now to have an impact on a much wider front and engaging more ordinary citizens than has ever been possible in the past."
Looking ahead, Professor Jeffery believes his challenge is to ensure future generations of social scientists see impact as a central part of their professional roles – though effective training at the early career stage and ensuring increased priority and status for impact within higher education.