Category: REF 2021

The relevance of political science and the public responsibility of political scientists

Political scientists face increasing demands to demonstrate the relevance of their research beyond the academy (the so-called ‘impact agenda’). Matthew Flinders argues that this should be seen less a threat to the discipline’s autonomy than an opportunity to rise to public responsibilities that have always accompanied a political science career. The ‘noble science of politics’ has … Continued

How should we celebrate the research excellence obscured by the REF? The case of the Research Software Engineer

The Research Excellence Framework’s purpose is to assess world-class research. However, it overlooks the work of many groups who make possible high-quality research submissions. James Baker illustrates this through the case of the Research Software Engineer, without whom much high-quality research would not be possible, but whose contributions do not get counted by the REF. … Continued

Assessing research impact – a tale of 7 impact studies

How to assess research impact? Sarah Morton draws on her own experience of assessing impact arguing that despite diverse topics, settings and countries, there are patterns of successful impact that can help move our learning forward. She outlines her five top lessons for designing and evaluating impact in a research project.    I am not … Continued

Unfunded research: Why academics do it and its unvalued contribution to the impact agenda

Unfunded research takes time and money for already stretched academics. Yet it makes up over a quarter of all research carried out in British universities. Professor Rosalind Edwards has spoken to academics about why they do unfunded research and argues that universities need to revalue this work in light of the significant contribution it makes … Continued

The Grammar of Impact – What can we learn from REF 2014 about writing impact case studies? 

Impact case studies will form an important part of all universities’ eventual submissions to the next round of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Drawing on a linguistic and thematic analysis of 175 impact case studies from REF 2014, Bella Reichard, Mark Reed, Jenn Chubb, Ged Hall, Lucy Jowett, Alisha Peart and Andrea Whittle set out … Continued

Impact a-gender? Calling out the gendered nature of research impact and assessment

Discussions about research impact are often littered with particular language that serves to demonstrate how different forms of impact are valued, promoted and sustained. Drawing on evidence from qualitative datasets, comprising interviews with researchers and research impact evaluators, Jennifer Chubb and Gemma Derrick argue that the language of research impact and assessment is frequently structured … Continued

From the armchair to the field – Mapping the impact of academic philosophy

The abstract nature of philosophy, and sometimes philosophers themselves, has often contributed to the perception that the discipline has difficulty engaging with wider social issues and hence impact. Using evidence from REF2014 impact case studies, Diana Hicks and J. Britt Holbrook chart five ways in which philosophers have achieved impact and applied philosophical thinking to … 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

2019 In Review: Practising research impact

The ways in research shapes and influences the wider world are a key focus of the LSE Impact Blog. This post brings together some of the top posts on the subject of research impact that featured on the Impact Blog in 2019. Invisible impact and insecure academics: structural barriers to engagement and why we should do it anyway Participatory Action […]