In the last 10 years, we have spent a lot of time thinking about the impact of research, both from a research and science management perspective. A few years ago, we also started giving trainings for other researchers on how to approach the blackbox “societal impact”. Our experience is that few researchers really know whether and how their research can have a societal impact. We believe that one reason for this is that science communication and societal impact hardly plays a role in researchers’ education.
Over the years we put some thoughts in the tools and material we used for our trainings. Due to the lack of adequate material, we began using tools and teaching material from other fields. One tool that has proved useful in our training courses is the Business Model Canvas (BMC) by Osterwalder (2008). Whenever we used the BMC for teaching and training, the course participants perceived these differences as irritating.
We therefore decided to fundamentally revise the BMC and adapt it to the needs and conditions of science. The result is the Research Impact Canvas (RIC), a simple canvas that deals with the most important questions in possible outreach activities and correlates them in a meaningful way. In our opinion, the RIC is a simple yet powerful strategic tool for planning science communication activities. The aim of the RIC is to make science communication activities manageable. At the same time, it should help researchers to develop empathy for people outside science.