2. Why use IT?
Some people may ask why IT deserves specific attention. Without doubt there are numerous engagement activities one could, and will, undertake that do not involve using technology in any form, and these are all well attested to in guidelines issued by the RCUK, and in summaries of existing impact statements. Employing IT solutions then, should be seen in this context.
Having said that, IT can provide easy wins with substantial benefits that might be very difficult to achieve otherwise. For example, a well-advertised website presents the researcher with a single point of publication that can easily be updated and read by anyone for free. Increasingly this site can be fed to other sites or tools, and peripherals such as mobile devices, pushing out information to the user. A traditional publication, on the other hand, would require multiple copies for dissemination, each one needing updates or reissues, and may be cost prohibitive to the consumers. Similarly a single lecture delivered to an audience may be useful to list under dissemination, but the same lecture recorded and delivered as a podcast for free could reach an audience of tens of thousands with minimal effort.
It is surprising to see, therefore, just how little imagination goes into the use of IT in existing research project applications (as witnessed by summaries of impact statements readily available online). This guide, therefore, could be of use to Oxford researchers in gaining advantage over competitive bids.