Around the world, governments and the higher education sector are being asked to become more accountable for the money they spend on research funding. Research quality measurement exercises, such as the Excellence in Research for Australia initiative, use a number of agreed indicators to measure, analyse and report on various institution and discipline-based research outputs. This emphasis on the outputs of research as opposed to its longer term outcomes is having an effect on internal university policy and processes which can often operate negatively on individual staff career development and promotion. This article reports on a project aimed at more clearly articulating and defining the idea of research impact for academics by preparing a promotion application. Phase one of the project was an extensive international literature review and this article sets out the findings from this review, considers the difficulties for articulating and evidences impact at the individual level and makes some suggestions for how academic staff and units might begin to deal with the idea of research impact.