Category: Featured

Retractions: the good, the bad, and the ugly. What researchers stand to gain from taking more care to understand errors in the scientific record

Retractions play an important role in research communication by highlighting and explaining how research projects have failed and thereby preventing these mistakes from being repeated. However, the process of retraction and the data it produces is often sparse or incomplete. Drawing on evidence from 2046 retraction records, Quan-Hoang Vuong discusses the emerging trends this data … Continued

Generating impact in the absence of government: Northern Ireland’s unlevel playing field

Impact assessment regimes are largely a-spatial, in that they assume that the academics they assess have equal access and opportunities to influence at different scales, local, regional, national, international etc, regardless of where they are located. Taking the example of Northern Ireland, Dr Vanessa Gstrein and Maria Prince explore how the lack of a functioning … Continued

The Senior Management Survey: auditing the toxic university

Higher education in the UK has been defined by a succession of assessment frameworks; National Student Survey, Teaching, Research Excellence and Knowledge Exchange Frameworks. Turning the quantitative focus of these exercises onto the management of universities, Mark Erickson, Paul Hanna and Carl Walker present the findings of a survey of staff perceptions of senior management … Continued

Learning from Blue Ocean Strategy – How do concepts become reality?

The term impact ultimately signifies the process by which an abstract idea for good or ill becomes a practical reality. Whilst good ideas are often believed to find their own audience, Guillaume Carton argues that for research and ideas to achieve impact they require mobilization. Taking the example of a concept from management studies, Blue … Continued

Co-producing knowledge with social movements, a critical perspective

For academic researchers working with social movements and activist groups can present unique challenges. Finding ways to work effectively together, whilst acknowledging differences in power and objectives, is often problematic. Drawing on perspectives from different social movements and academia, Diana Mitlin, Jhono Bennett, Philipp Horn, Sophie King, Jack Makau and George Masimba Nyama present insights … Continued

A broken system – why literature searching needs a FAIR revolution

The volume of academic research articles is increasing exponentially. However, the ease with which we are able to find these articles depends on the capabilities of the search systems that we use. These systems (bibliographic databases like Scopus and academic search engines like Google Scholar) act as important gatekeepers between authors and readers. A recent … Continued

Book Review: Are Filter Bubbles Real? by Axel Bruns

As references to echo chambers and filter bubbles become ubiquitous in contemporary discourse, Axel Bruns offers a riposte in Are Filter Bubbles Real?, which questions the existence of these phenomena. While not convinced by all of the author’s arguments, Ignas Kalpokas welcomes the book as a must-read for those looking to critically reflect on some of the assumptions surrounding social … Continued

Impact ‘agenda’ or impact ‘phantom’? 

Responding to an emerging debate around the changing nature of the impact agenda in the UK, Richard Watermeyer, argues that the current moment presents a point of change; an opportunity to exorcise the ghosts of previous regimes of incentivising and assessing impact, and step towards a more meaningful social compact.  Jude Fransman’s excellent piece in THE deliberating the consequences of plans by UKRI to abandon pathway-to-impact statements (PIS) as formal aspects of research funding applications, has pushed much of my … Continued

The civil service doesn’t just need more scientists – it needs a decision-making revolution

In the UK, the election of a new government has seen a renewed focus on research policy and the use of evidence in policymaking. In this repost, David Rose, Mark Burgman and William Sutherland, draw on their experiecnces of working within different government departments, to consider how evidence is currently used by the civil service and to set out an … Continued

Future impact – How can we rationally evaluate impact statements?

Making claims about the future impact of research as part of research grant applications has since it’s inception been controversial. As, if impact statements are accurate they suggest that the outcomes of research are already known. As UKRI (the UK’s main research funding body) considers scrapping impact statements, Paul Benneworth and Julia Olmos Peñuela argue … Continued