Qualitative and quantitative methods are being developed to measure the impacts of research on society, but they suffer from serious drawbacks associated with linking a piece of research to its subsequent impacts. We have developed a method to derive impact scores for individual research publications according to their contribution to answering questions of quantified importance to end users of research. To demonstrate the approach, here we evaluate the impacts of research into means of conserving wild bee populations in the UK. For published papers, there is a weak positive correlation between our impact score and the impact factor of the journal. The process identifies publications that provide high quality evidence relating to issues of strong concern. It can also be used to set future research agendas.