New Column: Introducing “Significant Impact”

New Significant Insights Columnist, Sania Haq, launches our latest column, Significant Impact: Showcasing the Power of Research.

I first became interested in pursuing research more seriously while having a (tearful) heart-to-heart with my university careers advisor. I was completing my MSc in International Public Policy and while, like many of my peers, I was passionate about making a difference in the world, the path to doing so was not quite clear. In one way this was liberating – there were lots of different avenues we could pursue. However, for those like me, choosing from so many possibilities felt somewhat overwhelming.

Thankfully my advisor was great – shoutout to the University of London Careers Service (#NotASponsoredAd)! 🙂 We talked through some options and it became clear that I was gravitating towards data and evidence. This was largely due to being inspired by the research methods element of my Masters degree. The tangible nature of research (i.e. being evidence based), coupled with the fact that the audiences we are ultimately trying to impact are at the heart of the process, really drew me to the field.

Having helped me come to a decision, my advisor set me free to go off and explore potential roles within research. Fast forward 10+ years…and luckily I do feel like I made the right decision. Phew! I’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of important projects that are, directly or indirectly, having a positive social impact.

It is, of course, not just me! Our industry plays a critical role in social impact, in a way that is both vast and diverse. While many of us industry insiders are aware of the great work being done, it seems we are somewhat hiding our light under a bushel in relation to the wider world! Like many, I often find it hard to explain my job to family, friends or young people exploring career options. The great news, however, is that once they do understand, most are genuinely intrigued and interested.

So, my hope with this column is to spread news about the power of research far and wide. We’ll be shouting about the significant (domestic and global) contribution our industry is making in relation to social impact. Each month, we will highlight projects, people and/or organisations that are making a difference. We hope that these features will inspire other researchers, provide learning opportunities, and encourage talented people to join the industry.

Finally, a big thank you to the Significant Insights team for inviting me to join the crew. I’m excited to get started! The focus of my first piece will be on how research is helping to bring the voices of lesser heard groups to the forefront.