Policy Press

Publishing with a Purpose

Impact: How do we make it happen?

Impact: How do we make it happen?

Getting people to engage with your work may sometimes feel like a bigger challenge than writing it in the first place, but don’t worry - we can help your work create the impact it deserves.

Discoverability, both online and offline, and accessibility are key. Just a few examples of how we can make this happen are below. Find out what you can do as an author here.

On our blog: Is the new impact agenda the excuse you’ve been waiting for to use your research to make a difference?

Read more about impact, influence and engagement at Policy Press here.

1. Gaining media and review coverage and influential support

We have an enviable reputation for gaining high profile national and international media.

In 2015-16 we had over 150 reviews across broadsheets including the Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Times Higher Education Supplement, Times Education Supplement, political magazines like New Statesman and academic journals. Extracts from two of our books gained 31k Facebook shares and 1187 comments in the widely read US political magazine Salon.

Our collaboration with Discover Society has seen many articles published by Policy Press authors, enabling them to tell the story of their work in an accessible way.

If your work has interest for a wider public audience, we will bring that message to national, local and specialist media.

Case study:


Having completed her PhD in 2009, Lisa McKenzie wanted the work to reach a wide audience beyond academia. We worked with her closely to develop the content in an accessible way.

This paid off handsomely - Getting By was number 3 in the Guardian bestseller list, received high-profile media coverage including several articles in the Guardian and interviews on Moral Maze and Woman’s Hour. The book gained support from campaigners such as Sleaford Mods, Vivienne Westwood and Ken Loach. Lisa is now regularly invited to comment in the media and was recently a panel member on Any Questions.

2. Organising launches and events

We work with authors to organise book launches, panel events and seminars, whether stand-alone events in bookshops or universities, or venues like the Royal Courts of Justice and House of Commons, or sessions at established conferences or literary festivals.

We also organise high-profile public events, which have proved to be an excellent way of bringing together our books and journals to highlight social issues to a broad audience.

Case study:

FoI image

In December 2016 we held an event on the ‘Future of Social Justice’, in association with the Bristol Festival of Ideas as part of our 20th anniversary activities.

The debate was held in the Great Hall of the University of Bristol's Wills Building and featured speakers Owen Jones, Danny Dorling, Melissa Benn and Kayleigh Garthwaite. Attended by over 800 members of the public the event also stimulated lively social media activity.

3. Influencing politicians, policy and independent enquiries

We keep on top of current government legislation and consultation in order to be able to identify opportunities for impact. Where we think this is possible, we will send copies of your work to politicians and policy-makers in working groups and committees addressing particular policy issues.

Policy Press books have been quoted by politicians, used in green papers and parliamentary briefings and we can provide digital policy briefings to support research findings.

Good times bad times

For example, the chapter infographics developed for Good Times, Bad Times were used by ministers, government departments and the media, and Gordon Brown used the book extensively in his 2015 keynote address for the 50th anniversary of Child Poverty Action Group:

"Masterfully, John Hills has brought together all the important research work of the Welfare State into a compelling, challenging and highly readable account." Rt Hon Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education

We also aim for our reach to extend beyond the UK and our books have an impact internationally. The EU Task Force on material deprivation adopted the methodology developed for the 1999 PSE, contained in two books in our Studies in Poverty and Social Exclusion series, to develop both an 'All person' and a 'Child' deprivation index for all 27 EU member states. This became the basis for a proposal to revise the EU2020 poverty measure in 2015. Without these books the EU would not have adopted the 1999 PSE methodology and anti-poverty policies across the EU would not become as accurately targeted as they could be.

In the Universal Credit Roll-out Emergency Debate on 24 October 2017, Neil Gray (SNP) said:

"The Government should review the cuts to the work allowances, which are acting as a disincentive to work and making work pay less; review the cuts to housing benefit, which are driving up rent arrears, as I am sure will be touched on in tomorrow’s debate; and review the cuts to employment support, which are denying help to those who need it most, and they should fully review and then scrap the disgusting sanctioning policy, which could have cost the life of my constituent, Mr Moran, and has cost the lives of others. That was the subject of an excellent paper by Sharon Wright of Glasgow University and Peter Dwyer of the University of York in The Journal of Poverty and Social Justice."

4. Helping your work to have an impact in practice

Our practice-based books have a positive influence 'on the ground', enabling practitioners and organisations to develop policy and understanding.

We will talk to key practitioner organisations about your book to establish the best way its message can reach a practitioner audience, for example coverage in relevant practice focussed publications.

Case study:

Re imagining child protection [FC]

Re-imagining Child Protection
, by Brid Featherstone, Susan White and Kate Morris, has been covered in, amongst many other places, Community Care and on the Research in Practice blog. The authors have gone on to be invited to speak to practitioner, professional and academic audiences across the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Malta, Chile, Finland and New Zealand. The book is regularly used by principal social workers in England to support the development of humane child protection practice in a range of local authorities.

5. Providing online supplementary material for your book

We can provide additional supplementary material online to support the book. Using different voices for different audiences in this way extends the reach of the work significantly.

This material may take the form of case studies, additional data, policy briefings, blog posts, infographics, information sheets or introductory tasters. The format taken will depend on the audience and what’s going to achieve the best reach and engagement. For example, as an author of a research monograph, we can work with you to create a pdf summary of key findings to circulate to your networks and to be included on the website page for your book.

Case study:
Dorling Why social inequality still persists
We created a free introductory taster to Danny Dorling's Injustice, to increase student interest and engagement in the book. This was promoted at a Royal Geographical Society talk with over 600 A-level students attending and used in a range of other marketing activities aimed at teachers, pupils and students.

6. Enabling open and free access

As the world of publishing evolves, open access is becoming an increasingly popular way of publishing.
Its very nature optimises opportunities for your work to have impact, making it widely and easily visible to researchers, practitioners and policy makers. But open access materials still need to be promoted in order to be discovered and Policy Press promotes open access content in exactly the same way we would for all our publications.

If open access publishing is something you are considering, for either monographs or journals, find out what we can offer here.

We also explore different ways of mixing open access and paid-for content, for example by offering free chapters for a short period of time, or with our Policy Press Bytes.

Being a scholar in the digital era

For example, individual chapters from Being a scholar in the digital era, by Jessie Daniels and Polly Thistlethwaite, were offered free to download from our website in the months following publication on a rolling month-by-month basis. Each was accompanied by a blog post on the subject of the chapter. By limiting the content and the time available free we can increase engagement whilst also ensuring we cover the book’s costs.

Along with Open Access we have also offered publications a part of a Freemium model. The Social Policy Association recently published ‘In defence of welfare’ as a free pdf while we published the print version for people to purchase on our website.


7. Social justice on the ground

We practise what we preach. The team at Policy Press are fully engaged with our social mission and understand the importance of impact.

We keep up to date with current affairs, particularly around social issues, and have the utmost respect for the work our authors do and the potential change it can achieve.

As a team we aim to contribute to positive social change. From foodbank collections and contributing to refugee appeals to attending protests, we are involved in many ongoing campaigns. We also support a local charity annually with activities including quiz nights and sponsored events to raise money, while supporting the charity through social media and online campaigning. We over practical help where we can – the team recently redecorated two rooms in a homeless shelter in Bristol.


Find out more about our charity work here.

garthwaite guardian
Article on Hunger Pains in the Guardian