With renewed investment of the UK’s official development assistance (ODA) commitment into research, there is a need to rethink traditional understandings of ‘research impact’. In this article, we argue that impact in ODA-funded research should go beyond translating research findings into practice and policy or implementing research in partnership with research mediators/users. Instead, development agendas of those living and working in the global South, including academics and practitioners, and those working in international non-governmental organisations should influence the research agendas, approaches, and schemes that allocate funding. These stakeholders have profound knowledge of what real-world impact looks like, the types of impact needed, local and national realities, and how complex processes of development impact unfold. Drawing on a programme of research conducted by the Rethinking Research Collaborative, we examine eight principles for ‘fair and equitable research partnerships’ using insights from our individual experiences to offer new thinking on ODA-funded research impact.