In impact study is research done on a certain topic to determine if a certain action would, or is, having some sort of an effect on its environment or other related issues. The most common type of this study referred to may be an environmental impact study, but there are many other types as well. These studies pull data from many different sources and often look at many different aspects of the issue.
In an environmental impact study, for example, extensive research may be done before building a road in a certain area. One of the steps may include determining how water runoff may be affected and if there are any vulnerable streams around. Another aspect could be a survey of plant and animal species in the area. Any found to be in danger could affect the project. While this may seem like a small task, this often not only includes mammals and birds, but insects as well.
An impact study could determine whether or not a project is completed. There have been cases where the unlikeliest of things have held up major developments. For example, entire highway projects have been put on hold because of a certain species of endangered butterflies in an area. This demonstrates how thorough some of these studies can be.
Another type of impact study can also be used to judge a curriculum or educational program. For example, the impact of the Head Start preschool program in the United States was analyzed to determine if Head Start students do any better than students of similar circumstances who do not have access to the same program. The results may be used by Congress, or the Department of Education, to determine how much funding such programs deserve in the future.
In some cases, a project may still continue despite what an impact study finds. In cases where the negative impact can be mitigated by positive implications, there may be a net gain to the area. In other cases, the study may indicate ways the negative effects can be minimized.
Although often not part of an impact study, an action plan may be developed based on its findings. This plan will seek to clear up any issues study found. If proposed, a second study may be done based on the new action plan to determine if the situation would be improved. However, in many cases, a second study may not be necessary.