Enhancing the ‘impact’ agenda at BCMCR

By BCMCR Alumni on March 2nd, 2016


Researchers: Dr Dima Saber, Jerome Turner, Rachel-Ann Charles


Based at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, the Monitoring and Evaluation Lab (M&E Lab) speaks to current concerns in co-design, co-creation and collaborative research, through developing quantitative and qualitative methods for the impact assessment of media and cultural projects, both in academic and non-academic contexts

Most significantly, the Research Excellence Framework exercise (REF) has now placed more emphasis on ‘impact’, thus making the work of the lab more relevant than ever before. In this context, M&E lab assists research and community projects with the ideation, planning and delivery of project reporting, through developing a set of performance indicators that could be exported and adapted to diverse projects and geographic locations.

The Lab draws on its researchers’ expertise in qualitative, quantitative, and community-based participatory research methods across the disciplines of community media, hyperlocal media, creative economy, cultural policy, history, media and conflict, and media for social impact. The knowledge developed will be of significant interest to researchers and organisations involved in various processes of monitoring and evaluation, whether in the development of new projects, ongoing primary research, or analysis and project reporting.

M&E Lab is aiming for the release of a toolkit of practical materials that will be available as an online and open-access resource, consisting of templates for impact assessment and offering guidance and resources regarding best practice approaches to monitoring and evaluation, such as questionnaires, surveys, and links to a diverse range of existing impact assessment resources. The work of the lab is also expected to make a contribution to an impact case study for REF2021.


  • To offer services of monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment to funded research, with a view to reporting research impact in the lead up to REF 2021
  • To release an open-access toolkit of questionnaires, surveys, links to resources, and interview questions to improve impact evaluation
  • To create a space where researchers and partners from outside of the academic circle can collectively reflect on issues of value and impact of media and cultural projects
  • To establish sustainable relationships with community and professional partners locally, and in Europe, the Middle East, and the US

M&E Lab Projects

The Lab is currently engaged in two projects, with others pending funding applications:

Meedan Checkdesk: Developing Investigative Digital Journalism in the Arab Region

Building on our experience of monitoring and evaluating this project since 2011, this work is ongoing to 2017, with over 4500 media activists trained since 2013 in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt on media literacy, investigative reporting and online verification skills. The latest impact report is available here. More details on the project can be found at arabcitizenmedia.org

Voices of War & Peace: The Great War and its Legacy  

This AHRC-funded project is ongoing to 2017 and involves researchers from BCMCR, the University of Birmingham and several other academic and community partners across the Midlands and the UK. We are currently working with the coordinators of the First World War Engagement Centre in Birmingham, Prof Ian Grosvenor and Dr Nicola Gauld, towards achieving two primary objectives: 1) assessing the reach, relevance and effectiveness of the centre’s community engagement events, activities and partnerships, and 2) identifying key learnings to contribute to the future development of the centre’s programmatic focus on collaborative and co-produced community based research.   

Get in touch

These projects are indicative of what we will be focussing on in the coming months, and our portfolio is quickly growing. We have already started collaborating and drawing in expertise from within our research centre, but we are keen to hear about your projects too. So if you are engaged in community projects, funded-research or related work and words like ‘impact’, ‘evaluation’ and ‘monitoring’ are starting to pop up in your conversations, feel free to contact us to discuss further.

Dima.Saber@bcu.ac.uk and Jerome.Turner@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: 0121 3317280