Covid Collective Helpdesk Report 10

Pathways to Impact in the Pandemic

Published on 14 September 2022

A Rapid Review of Covid-19-Related Research Engagement Strategies in Low- and Middle-Income Country Settings.

Implementing and ascertaining impact and outcomes of research is a prolonged process that may take several years due to complexities in bureaucratic, social, and economic systems. At the macro level, collective reflection on the different methods and approaches that research projects use to promote uptake and impact is rare but has potential to encourage learning and exchanges between different funders and projects around impact pathways as useful road maps for research.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the nature of research – while it has increased the demand for evidence to inform decision-making, it has further disrupted both the policy-influencing and engagement activities that would usually accompany such research. This report is based on an analysis of 90 research projects supported by the Covid Collective, COVID CIRCLE, and Covid Response for Equity (CORE) initiatives. It provides an overview and insight into how different funders and initiatives were working to facilitate change in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In line with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) definitions of ‘impact’, and subsequent work by the ESRC-FCDO’s (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) Impact Initiative, four categories were used to map the emerging outcomes and different types of change. These outcome areas comprise capacity, networks, conceptual, and instrumental outcomes. Outcome examples were then classified into more detailed descriptive groups highlighted in Table 1:

Capacity Building




Strengthened capacities of either researchers or intermediaries.

New or improved approaches or strategies to support research uptake.

Capacity of beneficiary groups to participate or engage with research.

Stakeholder platforms or spaces that bring different voices together.

Engagement with key stakeholders.

Partnerships with civil society / practitioners / policy or other relevant groups.

Opportune alliances with diverse groups that inform the research process or expand the reach of the evidence.

Approaches that have built awareness of an issue or put it on an agenda.

Engagement with media and civil society to shift attitudes or create public pressure.

Evidence of a shift in the dialogue and discourse around a particular issue.

Uptake of an approach or use of evidence to inform design of interventions.

Stronger training methods and tools.

Evidence of having influenced a policy document or statement.

Shifts in practice – application of new approaches, methods and practices.

Cite this publication

Taylor, J.; Quak, E.; Georgalakis, J. and Clark, L. (2022) Pathways to Impact in the Pandemic: A Rapid Review of Covid-19 Research Engagement Strategies in Low- And Middle-Income Country Settings, Covid Collective Helpdesk Report No. 10, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/CC.2022.003

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Image of Joe Taylor

Joe Taylor

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer

Image of Evert-jan Quak

Evert-jan Quak

Research Officer

Image of James Georgalakis

James Georgalakis

Director of Communications and Impact

Image of Louise Clark

Louise Clark

MEL Manager

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies


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