Science policymakers and funding agencies are increasingly interested in the societal impact of research. In practice, this means that, when applying for funding, researchers have to justify the academic impact (e.g. publications and conferences) and the societal impact (e.g. influence on policy and practice) of their proposed research. This paper aims to find out how these requirements relate by comparing two ethnographic case studies of research in health care and health assessment that aim to combine both forms of impact. I analyze the networks, values, and strategies in both research groups, and show that achieving societal and academic impacts are different research practices. Hence, I argue that academic and societal impacts should not simply be added up as requirements for research funding or academic career development but should be understood and appreciated on their own terms.