Impact case studies

Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) has more than doubled the amount of research that is judged to be world-leading or internationally-excellent by the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), and a key element of our work relates to the impact of research outside of academia.

  • We have world-leading research in all 16 Units of Assessment (UoA) from across the university
  • All UoAs have demonstrated an increase in the volume of world-leading research outputs from REF2014 to REF2021
  • 97.1% of the research environment at LJMU is rated from internationally-recognised to world-leading
  • LJMU is ranked 49th out of 129 Higher Education Institutions in the UK for research power

Our portfolio of impact case studies showcase excellent work with our local Liverpool communities through to partnerships with multinational global organisations.

The case studies below formed our submission to the 2021 REF and we invite you to explore the summaries below or visit the REF2021 website to view them in full detail.

Faq Items

Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy

  • Improving the quality of substance use prevention policy and practice in Europe: This case studies the positive impact on the development of prevention policy and practice in the UK, and EU Member States chiefly (inter)national substance use policy; new workforce development activities; and research contributions to recommended national drug prevention practice responses and guidelines development. As stated in the UNODC’s testimonial, “European drug prevention quality standards (EDPQS) inspired us to create in the International Standards in Drug Use Prevention in2013 (with a UNODC/World Health Organization second revised edition published in 2018)…at the time it was the only available reference for policy makers and practitioners interesting in improving the quality of prevention”.
  • Anabolic androgenic steroid and associated image and performance enhancing drug (IPED) misuse: This is an emerging public health issue. This research identified and quantified the significant health and social harms associated with this form of drug use; identified the barriers to health service provision; and informed legislative change and health service guidance.
  • Preventing and mitigating the impacts of adverse childhood experiences across the United Kingdom (UK) and beyond: This original research has enhanced understanding of ACEs, which has been instrumental in advocating for, and implementing UK ACE prevention strategies (e.g. parenting programmes; whole-system approaches). In the APPG final report it stated that “research into ACEs has usefully raised awareness of the importance of early year’s experiences on child development” and “there is now a body of evidence that clearly demonstrates a correlation between adversity suffered during childhood and an increased prevalence of health and social problems in later life”.
  • Ensuring Right to Health and HIV prevention, treatment, and care in African prisons: This research has highlighted appalling environmental conditions with neglect of gender sensitive prison health care. It has resulted in an increased Malawi Prison Service health budgetary allocation to specifically cater for the menstrual hygiene materials for females and girls in prisons in the 2019/2020 national budget. Overall, it underpins continued lobbying for penal/judicial reform.
  • Computational Models for Safe Cosmetics: To assist with the safety evaluation of ingredients in cosmetic products the researchers developed a variety of computational approaches linking chemical structure to potential harmful effects. The COSMOS Database has provided a rich source of repeated dose toxicity data that has been utilised to update the Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC) concept. Overall, the outputs from the COSMOS Project have been recognised for their role in the safety assessment of cosmetics across Europe and beyond without the use of animals.
  • Implementing multidisciplinary research to facilitate international drug control and protection of global public health: New psychoactive substances (NPS) are newly emerging drugs that pose significant challenges to people who use drugs, health care professionals, law enforcement and policymakers. As a result of this research, intensive efforts have led to the identification of the drug causing the fatalities; elucidation on the mechanisms of toxicity involved; and expert advice has been provided to facilitate European and international drug control to remove this drug from the streets.

Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

  • Making meditation accessible: Cognitive processes of mindfulness meditation: This research demonstrated that people who meditate for 10 minutes a day for just a few weeks become more aware of their mental processes and respond less impulsively. These insights were summarised in a neurocognitive model that is used worldwide to introduce secular meditation in non-therapeutic contexts. The CEO Mindset-Neuroeducation explains: “Dr Malinowski’s neuro-cognitive model of meditation constitutes a central component of our teacher training program, our attention and executive function training for school children, the associated training and advice for parents and our educational offers for the general public.”
  • Immersive Technology: Using research from Human-Computer Interaction to support business: Expertise from the university has been transferred to a number of industrial partners in the UK who are developing immersive technologies such as virtual reality to develop software and hardware products designed to improve safety, health and to promote emotional engagement with digital content. “Collaboration with the School of Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University has allowed us to successfully win contracts on innovation, such as ALEAD, that required a deep understanding of human behaviour as part of our simulation work.” - Managing Director, CGA Simulation
  • Coproduction within Suicide and Self-Harm research: This research introduced new innovative models of care to prevent suicide and self-harm. This work has substantially informed the design and implementation of new innovative services across the Northwest of England for the management of self-harm and suicide risk and has demonstrably altered practice, both locally, regionally and nationally. “The evaluation and findings are key to establishing future James’ Places across the country and displaying the fact that such a service not only alleviates immense pressure on A&E departments, University MH services and GP surgeries. But is also saving valuable lives". - Founder of James' Place
  • Touch for Life: A sustained programme of research has characterised the functional properties of a special class of touch sensitive nerves. Impact from this research has been achieved via contributing to a national policy for ensuring healthy childhood development by providing evidence of the importance of touch to a child’s mental wellbeing; implementing and embedding ‘touch practices’ in schools to counter the negative effects of restricting social touch in school children; invention of tactile stimulation device for use in neonatal care units to stimulate affective touch nerves. APPG Chair, Steve McCabe MP said: ‘The physical and emotional wellbeing of children matters so much because our future society depends on it. Now, acting together, we must optimise the emotional and physical wellbeing of every child so that we re-learn how to look out for each other. By teaching children to connect, we will create families and communities that will be strong and healthy.’

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management

  • Understanding the role of identity in shaping foreign policy discourse and preventing conflict in East Asia: This project investigates the important role of identity discourse and identity tensions in shaping changing security relations in East Asia. The research has stimulated and contributed to policy debates on East Asian security within governments and the diplomatic circles in the UK, Europe and East Asia. The key researcher’s contribution to these debates has led to a greater understanding of identity politics in conflict prevention and peace promotion among diplomats and foreign policymakers.
  • Re-Placing Malcolm Lowry: Exploring the Cultural Significance of Place and Identity in and through Lowry’s Life and Work: The project focuses on the writer Malcolm Lowry (1909–1957), author of the acclaimed modernist novel Under the Volcano (1947). The project has the overall aim of ‘re-placing’ Lowry as a Merseyside writer and exploring his continued cultural relevance through a range of public engagement activities. As a result, the researcher has raised the profile of Lowry as a writer born on Merseyside, resulting in the installation of a blue heritage plaque in his birthplace, New Brighton, and made Lowry’s life and works accessible to new audiences through a wide range of public activities, including guided local walks, illustrated talks, film screenings, a conference, and new artistic commissions. “The Lighthouse Invites the Storm project impacted hugely upon my artistic practice in terms of unpacking a set of published Malcolm Lowry writings not through more text but through participatory, audio, visual and public interventionist works. In particular, the density of his writing in Ultramarine and Under the Volcano – the high-definition quality of description – made me explore a more ‘fuzzy’ aesthetic, and this is an area I’ve explored in subsequent research.”
  • Racing the King Tide – Documenting Adaptation to Sea Level Rise: This is an international research project that re-frames the approach to adaptation to sea-level rise. The first-hand experiences of Islanders in Tubigon, Philippines adapting to sea-level rise caused by the 2013 Bohol earthquake are documented through film, photography, 360VR and academic publications. The project has influenced policy change at local and national Philippine government level in terms of adaptation to sea level rise and community migration. Sir Noel Cano Mendana, Local Government Unit, Tubigon commented “The research work has helped us a lot in coming up with initiatives that we would like to implement in the islands. The videos, we are showing these to our officials and decision-makers who help influence decision-making in providing help and support. The film of kids playing in the flooded basketball court and the classroom inundated with water during class hours has really helped in getting support to provide funding for raising the flooring of the school classrooms. Before, even if teachers are already complaining, it does not generate so much support from the decision-makers and local officials. These films and the data coming from research, they can really influence people making decisions to implement something that would alleviate the issues and the problems of the islanders after the earthquake.”

Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences

  • Improving orangutan conservation through research: The results of this research on orangutan conservation fed into the Indonesian Government orangutan population and viability analyses as well as the 2019-2029 Indonesian Orangutan Action Plan and several NGOs are using this research to guide their conservation strategies. The study on the description and threats to a new orangutan species has been used by an Indonesian environmental NGO in a court case against the local government for the development of a large hydroelectric project that would severely impact the newly discovered species. Founder of the Orangutan Information Centre “One important consequence of the work of Prof Wich has been to increase forest restoration in crucial areas of the Leuser Ecosystem. The reforestation efforts have led to an increase the habitat for orangutans.”
  • Improving the outcomes of threatened species translocations: Conservation translocations, or the movement of individual plants, fungi and animals for conservation benefit, are prone to failure. Climate-induced mechanisms of translocation failure and problems arising from release design have been investigated in research on conservation translocations of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and plants profiled in this research. The production of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations which has in turn informed international legislation and codes of best practice, been incorporated into specific reintroduction programmes, and influenced a change in the IUCN Red List category Extinct in the Wild.
  • Protecting tropical peatlands and their ecosystem services: The role of tropical peat as C stores is currently under serious threat from large-scale expansion of drainage-based agriculture. This research, via the development of the research consortia has been used to contribute improved emission factors for drained and burning tropical peatlands, provide input into core RSPO sustainable oil palm certification guidelines on oil palm on peatlands and peatland rehabilitation and provide scientific data on emissions to Malaysian policy makers. “Dr Evers was key in influencing the then Minister of Primary Industries to block approval for a proposed 1000ha oil palm plantation in the boundary of the forest.”
  • Building the capacity of environmental managers to mitigate mine pollution: The research led to national and international impact on practitioners and improvements to the water environment. Application of novel monitoring and modelling approaches, in conjunction with training workshops, changed how environmental regulators monitor mine pollution; secured mine site remediation funding awards worth GBP£1.8M, and reduced pollution of water bodies by mine wastes. A Lead Specialist Engineer (Geotechnical) stated: “Without the work of Dr Byrne we may have committed up to £3M on remedial work without understanding the resulting loading from Graig Goch that would cause the waterbody to fail to attain WFD Good status.”
  • Drones to improve conservation: The research on the usage of drones for detection of animal and habitat monitoring has led to successful collaborations with Governments and Non-Governmental organizations. These organizations have indicated that drones and the analytical methods we have developed are facilitating their conservation efforts through more cost-effective animal surveys, being able to obtain higher-resolution data of land-cover that allows for classification of vegetation types and changes over time and being more efficient in detecting and extinguishing peat fires. WWF Netherlands stated “The conservation research using drones has been very influential on getting us started with drones for various of our projects. As a result of his papers and further discussions with him we are now using drones in several of our conservation projects and are planning to extend this. Drones have in several cases facilitated our conservation efforts.”


  • From Veteranality to Criminological Artivism: understanding the veteran-offender through transformative criminological research: Criminological Artivism is a new model of collaborative and interdisciplinary research for the social sciences and established a new approach to the coproduction and dissemination of research between arts organisations, penal reform campaigners and criminological researchers. “Drawing upon [Murray’s] work on veteranality and criminological artivism, together with the team, she redefined the role of an embedded researcher. Dr Murray helped the team to reflect on our practice and also our language and the connections between the arts, sociology and pedagogy. This work was central to FACT’s Learning Duty of Care, a work-in-progress set of guidelines for participatory and collaborative projects that is now part of the everyday work of the organisation” - CEO/Director of FACT Liverpool
  • Shaping resettlement policy and practice: a case study partnership: This research promoted a system change agenda by establishing innovative resettlement practices within Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Liverpool and Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company enabling ongoing learning/collaborative working through the Merseyside Reducing Reoffending Group, practitioner forums and a webinar series engaging senior managers with emergent issues/evidence. “Practitioners like myself have been at the sharp end of the tumultuous changes to the probation service. As practitioners, research like the work conducting into Through the Gate provision at HMP Liverpool provides an opportunity to talk openly and without prejudice regarding the implementation and delivery of probation services. This can be empowering as it gave a voice to front- line practitioners like myself who can be ignored by policy makers when their policies are enacted at the local level”. - Case Manager, Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company


  • A Universe for All: The National Schools’ Observatory: The National Schools’ Observatory (NSO) is a web-based resource run by LJMU that gives UK and Irish schools, and independent learners internationally, free access to their own observations from the world’s largest fully-robotic telescope – the Liverpool Telescope. Driven by the need to close the growing STEM skills gap, the NSO is using astronomy to cut across age groups, gender and social demographics and inspire school students to consider STEM careers by giving them access to scientific research and instrumentation and supporting their teachers. “I really found that this helped re-engage disengaged pupils who were having a lot of problems in school. … It was transformational for some.” - teacher “A normally quiet and subdued girl has been hugely inspired by the NSO... The NSO has been a big part of building her confidence. Now there is 50/50 female/male split in the enrichment club which is great.” – teacher.
  • Astro-Ecology: Tackling biodiversity loss using thermal imaging, machine learning and drone technology: Using techniques developed in astronomy, ecology, and machine learning, researchers developed drones with thermal cameras combined with automated animal detection system to tackle biodiversity loss. They demonstrated that the system makes it up to 100x quicker to conduct animal surveys than existing methods, saving NGOs many thousands of pounds per project per year. This has a transformative effect on NGOs’ abilities to tackle biodiversity loss and is affecting change in national governmental policy on the uptake of drones. Director of the Greater Mahale Ecosystem Research and Conservation Project said, “drones coupled with machine learning can detect poachers 17x faster than when images are examined manually.”
  • Astro-Ecology: Tackling peat fires – a major contributor to climate change - using thermal imaging and drone technology: Using techniques from astronomy, researchers developed drones with thermal cameras and an automated fire-detection system to tackle peat-fires. Fire-fighters report the system is over 10x quicker finding fires, 50% quicker extinguishing fires and over 10x quicker confirming fires are extinguished. The Director of Programs at Borneo Nature Foundation, states, “the overwhelmingly positive feedback from fire-fighting teams and their desire for thermal drones to attend all possible fire events, attests to this positive impact. This derives from an increased ability and speed of detecting fires (compared to checking on foot, which is dangerous and may take many hours for a large fire, we estimate that use of a thermal drone allows fire hotspot location mapping to be completed around at least 10x quicker and with almost no safety risk), which in turn improves the ability of teams to monitor the current fire situation and deploy team members as necessary to prevent fire spread and extinguish hotspots.”

Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

  • Protecting the Hearts of our Athletes: from Pre-participation Screening to Secondary Care: The tragic sudden cardiac death of 12 young people a week in the UK may be preventable through pre-participation cardiovascular screening (PPS). This research has led to significant change with international reach in athlete PPS including updating international consensus statements ,the production of sport-specific evidence-based PPS policies and guidance documents and the establishment of PPS pathways of care in Liverpool. “This work clearly supported the feasibility and efficacy of club-based screening, and this is how we liaised with LJMU to change our practice. This change has provided significant help and reassurance to our players and staff with confidence in clinical outcomes and safety to continue playing for all those screened. On-going research from LJMU and their collaborators clearly points to the value of a long-term screening plan in elite sport, and this has also altered our approach to screening.” – St Helens RLFC
  • Blood, Sweat and Tears: The development of bespoke nutrition support to improve the physical and mental health of jockeys: This research has produced alternate weight-making methods which have been adopted internationally. This has transformed jockey behaviour and horse racing culture improving the welfare of jockeys and reducing the occupational risks of horse-riding. These changes also influenced the whole horse-racing industry through education, new policies, practices and resources which have been endorsed and adopted worldwide. “One of the main contributions from the team at LJMU, was the demonstration that through an alternate dietary strategy, jockeys could reduce weight safely. Over the past 5 years I have witnessed a significant change in the behaviour of jockeys when it comes to making weight with many jockeys now following the suggestions from LJMU with much less reliance on the acute dehydration strategies such as the use of saunas. This change in dietary behaviour has improved the general mood of jockeys which has significant potential to improve their mental health.” - British Horse Racing Authority
  • From molecule to mouse to man: transforming the clinical management of all alkaptonuria patients in the UK with molecular and whole-body level approaches: Alkaptonuria (AKU) is a rare inherited metabolic disease leading to connective tissue and joint damage, early osteoarthritis and severe pain that impair gait, activities of daily living and quality of life. Research at LJMU has contributed to a transformation of the clinical management of this condition through pre-clinical and clinical trials and eventual licencing of an effective drug therapy for adult patients, for whom no active treatment had previously been available.
  • Creating and supporting a “Global Active City” Movement: The Global Active City (GAC) movement has attained international reach through project certification standards, change in knowledge, policy and programmes within pilot project cities and increases in Physical Activity in the participating cities. These changes have led to reductions in inactivity and demonstrated substantial associated economic benefits. “The work of the PAEx made a clear and material difference to the Liverpool Active City and the resultant improvements in levels of physical activity and associated economic benefits observed as a result” and “Liverpool has been viewed as an exemplar for cities across the globe and we were delighted to be one of the first cities to be a certified GAC in 2018” - Strategic Physical Activity and Sport Development Manager, Liverpool City Council
  • Driving transformation in player tracking technology and elite player preparation across the global football industry: Research undertaken by the Football Exchange (FEx) includes match and training analysis and key aspects of player preparation and recovery. This research has been translated into evidenced-based practice to produce impact within multiple layers of the global football industry. “This research has influenced our coaching practice in that our players and coaches are now more educated and receive individual programmes related to the growth of muscle as opposed to the loss of body fat.… This work has significantly raised the importance of nutrition amongst our players, coaches and wider performance staff”. - Head of Academy Sports Science, Everton Football Club

Computer Science and Informatics

  • Smart Energy, Smart Care: This research addressed the need to monitor and support dementia patients at home using smart meters. “Involving people living with dementia and specialist dementia clinicians from the outset, rather than when the technology has already been developed, has been a refreshing, welcome and more productive way of joint working between NHS and academia with improved impact, credibility and future adoption.” – Head of Research, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Fire Prevention and Community Safety: This research concerns novel informatics modelling of at-risk groups in terms of combined fire, health, social, and crime risk, enabling more accurate targeting of fire prevention. The Chief Fire Officer for MFRS commented that: ‘The modelling has undoubtedly contributed to a significant reduction in accidental fires helping to make Merseyside a safer place’ and ‘I have no doubt that the work carried out by LJMU from 2010 to the present day has benefitted MFRS and more importantly, the people of Merseyside’.
  • What to do With the Wi-Fi Wild West (Wi-5): The Liverpool 5G Create: Connecting Health and Social Care project developed a private independent 5G network for health and social care services in selected areas of Liverpool to reduce digital poverty for vulnerable people in need, providing safe, free and accessible connectivity to services including health, social care and education. The Commissioning and Contracts Manager of Adult Social services at Liverpool City Council remarked: “The recent response to Covid-19 has demonstrated the need for increased use of remote health and social care services. Through this project, we will ensure that services are available to those in need, removing the barriers caused by lack of affordable connectivity.”
  • Improving Drug Safety Screening: 3D – Liver Spheroid Toxicity Model: Drug-induced liver injury represents a major global health concern and is one of the most common adverse drug reactions. Using mathematical modelling and experimental data, Dr. Steve Webb developed a 3D-liver spheroid model that is more representative of the in vivo system. AstraZeneca have since used this system to screen 5000 compounds, impacting the choice of safety molecules to progress with regards to hepatic safety at the discovery phase in a global pharma company.


  • A decision-support system for transportation and logistics: The creation of a novel decision-support system is helping authorities and industry to make improved and more timely decisions, resulting in greener, more efficient, and more sustainable transport and logistics. “Many thanks to you and your team for your development of digital innovations such as the Smart Green Dashboard product in the Emergency Active Travel Fund project, which help supports the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, as well as the six local authorities in the region to assess the current level of walking/cycling versus other traffic, and the effectiveness of measures to improve active travel. For example, using a sensor located in a busy area covering over 10 schools and education settings, plus a major hospital in Liverpool, the system has informed the authority of insights at peak times in the directions of vehicle, pedestrian and cyclists. This finding is being used as evidence to support the development of a segregated lane for pedestrian/cyclists, which has benefited over 14,000 people and vehicles per day”. - Programme Development Officer, Merseytravel
  • RAIDS - A Risk Assessment Informed Decision Support Tool for Large Maritime Engineering Systems: The research has had a direct quantifiable impact on both regulatory and public policy governing risk-based maritime systems operations, and the practices and activities of industrial organisations and services “The Risktec training business has generated revenues of over £7.5 million since 2014. An approximate revenue per year is £1.2m. Based on 2019 revenue, the FTE for this new business is approximately an additional 5 FTEs.”
  • Knowledge-based service and design for reliable and secure microelectronic products: The research has impacted the industry in four ways: the predicative model developed has been used for both process qualification and ‘product design kit’ software; the developed test techniques have been embedded into commercial instruments as a standard module; direct participation in the world-leading industrial consortium that is developing state-of-the-art future technologies; the in-depth knowledge gained on device instability has been innovatively utilised to design and build a new hardware True Random Number Generator (TRNG) for IoT security applications. “The two research areas covered by this group are the mainstream semiconductor technologies: Logic and Memory, which generate an annual revenue of the order of $2,000 Billion worldwide. Given the pervasive and strategic nature of these technologies in modern society, we consider the impact is far reaching and significant” – IMEC
  • Innovation in Abrasive Machining Technologies: This research builds on the world-class abrasives research that has helped transform global industrial grinding practice. The research addresses ever-increasing demand for better quality and higher productivity, focusing on high efficiency deep grinding and mass finishing. It has shaped government strategy in additive manufacturing and the development of innovative next-generation abrasive technologies. It has directly resulted in the realisation of a £2.5m factory, built in the UK (2017) for high volume production of an advanced abrasive tool possessing environmental credentials in a sector valued circa US$33.9 billion in 2020. “…The joint work with LJMU has helped us position the developed bond on the market and secure over $0.5m financial support from the Chinese government and other private equities to set up our own new factory of grinding wheel production in the High and New Technology Development Zone, in Jinan of Shandong Province, as ‘Jinan Kechuang Super Hard Material Products Co. Ltd’...” Director

Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

  • Prolonging the Life of our Roads and Highways with No CO2 Emission Construction Materials: This research allows sustainable and low-cost repairs, surfacing and maintenance of the existing asphalt, reducing the need for a complete resurfacing of roads. The application of thin layers postpones major repairs for several years and is suitable for all types of roads, therefore reducing the costs of major reconstruction works as well as reducing COemission and preventing disruption to infrastructure users. Since developing new products based on the research at LJMU and developed with LJMU, Colas Ltd has increased annual sales by over €7M in the UK and France through laying over 850,000 mof roads in 2018 and 2019 using the new product, with similar projections for 2020. In 2018, the revenue for COLBIFIBRE was about 4m Euros, accounting for resurfacing of more than 500,000 mof roads.”
  • Novel, non-destructive testing sensor platform for characterisation of insecticides and biohazards deposited on building materials: There are 200 million people at risk of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) globally; 65 million live in India and the majority of them in the State of Bihar. VL is fatal, if left untreated. The researchers have developed and operationally validated a self-contained sensor platform which is used by the IRS programme in India to improve the local communities’ quality of life by reducing the incidences of diseases in remote locations, where medical assistance is not readily available. “The Sensor technology developed by Liverpool John Moore’s University (LJMU) has already had an impact on reducing visceral leishmaniasis transmission in India. As a result, the technology is being further developed and commercialised in a format that has the potential to save the lives of many thousands of African children who would otherwise have died of malaria.” – Director LSTM
  • Low Carbon Solutions: This research focused on carbon reduction technologies through energy from waste, waste management, low carbon planning, sustainable asset and energy efficiency management, and renewable energy. “The work that LCEI has undertaken will allow us to quantify and demonstrate how the kitchen industry can operate more sustainably. Through growth in awareness and business expansion, we are going to normalise the sale and purchase of pre-owned kitchens. It will bring cost effective kitchens to the marketplace, while driving massive environmental savings. It's a win-win for everyone."

Business and Management Studies

  • Improving patient outcomes through better project management of clinical trials: The research influenced the project management of clinical trials. The research has devised new PM approaches, enhancing PM knowledge and capability, contributing to cultural change, by changing attitudes towards the efficacy of PM in clinical trials. It has led to cost and time efficiencies in the PM of specific clinical trials. The Chair of the Project Management Special Interest Group of the PCMG noted “the work that you have been doing has encouraged smarter outsourcing but with a results-based focus, and if outsourcing is to be credible it has to be able to deliver results. And what you’ve provided is, it’s more than a framework, it has provided people with something to go into their management and say, look, there’s a better way of doing this”.
  • Creating operational benefits and service improvements in an NHS Trust through leadership development: A Senior Leaders Development Programme (SLDP) was designed and delivered for an NHS Trust. The SLDP is based on the LBS Integrated Model of Leadership Development informed by critical reflection, questioning insight and collaborative ways of working. The Executive Director of Workforce for Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Trusts stated, ‘Our staff have found the Senior Leaders programme extremely useful’ and that ‘the SLDP was really well received by people from different roles across the trust (medics, nurses, managerial). It has been particularly useful for senior managers, helping them to gain a better understanding of the wider external picture (merging trusts).’
  • Transport logistics systems: resilience and sustainability: A holistic decision support framework was developed, resulting in the improved safety and green performance of logistics and transport companies in the UK and internationally. It has also had a significant and direct impact on both regulatory and public policy targeting transport logistics resilience and sustainability. The research influenced UN policy making on port adaptations to climate change and researchers advised Dublin Ferryport that an investment in automation will save more than 6 million Euros and eliminate all human related safety incidents in comparison to using manually-driven equipment.

Social Work and Social Policy

  • Researching Deaths in Prisons: Impacting on State Policy and Supporting Bereaved Families: Between 2014 and October 2020, there were 598 self- inflicted deaths and 1986 deaths overall in prisons in England and Wales. This research has focussed on impacting on this debate through providing evidence to official inquires and Parliamentary Committees; suggesting alternative policies to prevent these deaths; supporting the families of the deceased and establishing mechanisms to hold to account those involved. Dr Bennett of Prison Service Journal (PSJ), “The fact that Professor Sim engages with practitioner publications such as PSJ and is willing to engage in debate with people in prisons shows a personal and intellectual courage. It also shows an activist’s desire to not simply critique from the outside but to directly get into the belly of the beast. I myself can personally attest to how his work has led me to question what I do professionally and has encouraged me to challenge and change my practice”.
  • Researching the policed: examining developments in public order policing in relation to anti-fracking protests: This research provides the first academic study of the policing of protests against ‘fracking’ in the UK and documents, maps and conceptualises protesters’ experiences of policing at anti-fracking protest sites. In doing so it has influenced both UN Policy discussions about the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the UK and legal processes in relation to police responses to protest. “When researchers came to conduct interviews, I was able for the first time to articulate my fears, anger and sense of betrayal by those whom I'd been raised to believe would protect the community…Being listened to enabled me to find a voice and sense of justice. I was able to then become an advocate for fellow protesters…Contributing to academic reports enabled me to reflect and focus upon and then structure experiences and events that often occurred quickly and were difficult to process” - Protester, Preston New Road
  • 21st century Armed Forces Community (AFC): Reappraising TRBL Wellbeing Support: The Royal British Legion (TRBL) provides recreational opportunities for the whole Armed Forces Community (AFC). Researchers led a major national, transformative, outcome-based evaluation of the Service (2017-18). The evidence-base from this wide spectrum analysis contributed to a TRBL organisational review of provision in the area of well- being, recovery and veteran support with rising incidences of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) becoming a key concern and contributed to a major strategic realignment saving nearly GBP7 million pounds per year. The saved revenue has been channelled directly into schemes that support beneficiaries with the greatest need. “The work undertaken by LJMU has therefore been of great value to the RBL in informing its strategic decision making”- TRBL


  • Exam pressures and how to beat them: Supporting students preparing for their GCSEs: This research has examined the assessment, antecedents and outcomes, of debilitating exam anxiety in adolescent students preparing for GCSE examinations and identified how beliefs, styles of emotional regulation, and study behaviours, interact and combine to determine exam anxiety. Researchers produced a BBC Education Bitesize Mindset campaign 2017-18, provided resources for secondary schools, and cognitive-behavioural interventions were developed and for highly exam anxious students. Comments from students included “the techniques helped me to achieve calmness“, “it helped me to understand the reasons why I panic and how to overcome it“, “it helped me to overcome my anxiety“, and “I learnt lots of relaxation techniques and that its okay to panic as long as I can deal with it“.
  • Increasing women’s participation in sport and physical activity: This research examined a targeted sport and physical activity programme for women and girls (14+), funded by Sport England, called ‘I Will if You Will’ (IWIYW). It investigated women’s and girl’s changing patterns of behaviour and attitudes to sport and physical activity, and their engagement with the campaign and associated community education activities. “Targeting delivery strategies to different types of women, thinking about how different groups of women, what motivates them, what’s appealing to them, what’s available and then those kind of social and emotional influences alongside… practical influences and what people do were all things I think that our own understanding, changed through the experience of being involved with I Will If You Will and those experiences informed what we did subsequently [This Girl Can].” -Sport England Head of Research
  • Think Aloud: Developing a more effective coach and practitioner industry through reflective practice: Think Aloud (TA) is a novel method of verbalising personal thoughts, feelings and reflections in-action as an event (coaching session) occurs. The practical and educational applications from this research have been used and impacted 375 coaches, mentors and coach educators and adopted by the England Football Association (FA), Rugby Football League (RFL) and UK Coaching as a formal education tool. The FA Regional Mentor Manager stated, “The TA programme has helped the mentors realise the benefit of reflection, it has given them another tool in the tool box for reflection and perhaps more importantly, it has actually improved their understanding of reflection because it’s about the why. Why do I reflect? So they can actually make some adjustments or challenge their thinking or actions and it helps the mentor go on and help the coach or the person they’re working with. The impact of this research is that it has improved the mentor-coach relationship, the mentors communicate more effectively with their mentee coaches which in turn has improved the coach’s we work with.”

English Language and Literature

  • War Widows’ Stories: War Widows’ Stories has worked with 128 war widows and family members, and in close partnership with the War Widows’ Association of Great Britain (WWA), making them feel heard, enabling them to tell their stories in their own voices, helping them process their experiences of loss and grief, and recording and publishing their stories. The project has had a profound positive effect on war widows’ wellbeing, strengthened the WWA’s political advocacy, and raised significant public awareness of war widows’ lives at a national level. “At last I was being listened to. There was relief to be able to talk about what had happened. For years no one wanted to know […] I now feel a sense of closure, of peace.” – War Widow “I like the way the widows are less passive than they’re usually portrayed. […] It really was quite a powerful impact. Almost embarrassing, like you’re intruding on someone’s grief. The raw feeling.” - Exhibition Visitor
  • Shakespeare North: Shakespeare North is a £35m, multi-layered, multi-dimensional partnership project between Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council (KMBC) and Shakespeare North Trust (SNT) with LJMU as the founding academic partner. It focalises regeneration of the Merseyside borough of Knowsley through commemoration of its Elizabethan and Jacobean theatrical heritage. “Local MP George Howarth can confirm that it was Professor Graham’s research and evidence on the potential benefits of the project that led him to call for a parliamentary debate on SN at the end of 2015. Three months later £5m of Northern Powerhouse funding was awarded to SN by the Treasury. Professor Graham’s work was also a key factor in Knowsley Council’s decision to concentrate on culture as a driver for regeneration of the township of Prescot and more specifically for a new theatre in the locality”. - Interim Chief Executive, Shakespeare North
  • Rewriting Shyness: Joe Moran’s writing on shyness raised public awareness and understanding of this common but often ill-defined condition making shyness part of public discussions about wellbeing and being human, and addressed unhelpful simplifications of and misconceptions about it. In the many letters and emails Moran received from readers, and comments on his own website, the positive personal impact of his work and its broadening of understanding were common themes: ‘Your book helped me I think overcome some difficulties, or at least better rationalize the human relations and my stand in interacting with others.’ ‘It’s definitely altered how I feel about my own shyness, which I used to see as an ugly affliction that needed to be cured.’


  • Dry Your Eyes, Princess’: gender variance in the British Armed Forces: Vickers has undertaken the first and only known research project on trans veterans in the world. The project sought to understand how gender variance was understood by the Armed Forces after 1945 and the ways in which veterans conceptualised the relationship between their service and their gender identity. The director of the museum believed that ‘the real impact [of the exhibition was] the visibility and inclusive practice for often fragile histories to be shared with the public and for our confidence to develop as a museum.’
  • Presenting the Past: Creating content for historic sites and museums: Central to this case study are three award-winning museums and heritage centres in Ireland – Kilmainham Gaol and Courthouse, Dublin; Fortress Spike Island Co. Cork and Nano Nagle Place, Cork. As historical consultant for these sites, author of The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland’s Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion, and two open-access reports on heritage, museums and exhibitions O’Brien has had a considerable impact on debates around heritage and tourism in Ireland. “The visitor figures shared below show a year-on-year growth of visitors to the museum. Although 2020 will challenge this trend, we will hopefully return to growing our annual visitor numbers and with it the impact of Gillian’s work. The centre employs 26 people and we have c. 30 volunteers working across the site. Nano Nagle Place has contributed significantly to the economic uplift of the South Parish area of Cork.” – Nano Nagle Place

Art and Design: History, Practice, Theory

  • The Constituent Museum: The Constituent Museum’S book was intended to be a significant and world-class contribution to debates on the development of contemporary art practice beyond the current museological limitations of neo-Kantian architectures of disinterested spectatorship and objecthood. The book, and the Constituencies Research Strand from which it developed, has had a direct impact on the managerial operating systems, curatorial imperatives, and public engagement policies of two significant and world class museums –The Van Abbemuseum (NL) and The Whitworth (UK). “[John Byrne’s work is a] major contribution to the development of constituent thinking and to discussions and debates around how operational changes could be made to museums and galleries in support of a more diverse, more democratic usership”. - Director of the Van Abbemsuem
  • Craniofacial Identification for Forensic and Archaeological Investigation: Face Lab has developed, evaluated and applied processes, standards and datasets for facial depiction of the dead and craniofacial identification. Impacts include improved social welfare by establishing internationally established forensic processes that have enhanced forensic identification from human remains, and correspondingly improved law enforcement services, cultural restitution and disaster victim identification (DVI). The team have delivered highly skilled professionals and international standards in forensic craniofacial identification, provided global cultural enrichment through the craniofacial depiction of historical figures and ancient human remains, leading to enhanced public engagement and knowledge transfer with art-science. A review of the facial difference book stated that, “the editors and contributors challenge readers and researchers to re-evaluate modern-day assumptions about beauty and difference based upon their presentation of the past.”
  • Academia in Residence: A new model of university-cultural partnerships and the impact on strategic direction, curation and social engagement: Liverpool School of Art and Design pioneered an innovative approach to university-cultural partnerships with three Liverpool-based internationally leading arts institutions. The model consists of academic posts embedded at Tate Liverpool (TL), FACT and Liverpool Biennial (LB), designed to effect change in the institution’s strategic direction and the cultural ecology of the city through the establishment of a joint research platform leading to an enhanced research culture. The FACT Artistic Director commented: “By having a public, practice-based, creative space, FACT can further act as a catalyst for creative communities and empower visitors who want to get more involved with processes of making, in addition to looking and reflecting. Executive Director for Tate Liverpool said “Tate Liverpool’s partnership with LJMU marks a development in the way that we work with higher education institutes. Not only does our partnership help us develop new audiences to the gallery via jointly programmed public events but has also strengthened our research capacity through the collaborative post of Research Curator”.

What is the REF?

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is carried out approximately every 6-7 years to:

  • assess the quality of research across UK universities
  • show the quality and output of research on a domestic and global stage
  • show the impact research has on the academic environment and our society, and highlight its real-world benefits

The REF is jointly conducted by the four UK higher education funding bodies:

  • Research England (RE)
  • Scottish Funding Council (SFC)
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
  • Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE)

It is also managed by the REF team, based at Research England, and a steering group from the four funding bodies.

Why is it done?

The four UK higher education funding bodies use the REF to inform the allocation of around £2 billion of research funding per year. The thoroughness of the exercise is designed to provide accountability for public investment in research, demonstrating its benefits and impact. REF is also used by HE institutions for:

  • Benchmarking and establishing reputational yardsticks with peer institutions and departments
  • Understanding institutional strengths for external communications
  • Informing strategic university decisions
  • Understanding larger sector-wide trends
  • Attracting researchers and postgraduate students
  • Learning more about a university or department you might want to work with
  • Securing further funding

Lessons learned from the current exercise will inform the Future Research Assessment Programme (FRAP), which is exploring possible future approaches to the assessment of UK higher education research performance, including through dialogue with the HE sector.