Category: REF

Measuring knowledge exchange – the road to societal impact?

Given the well-known difficulties of measuring the full impact of universities, it may be better to focus instead on knowledge exchange, the process by which the societal impact of scientific knowledge is realised. For Frank Zwetsloot and Anika Duut van Goor, “contract income” – the financial investments made by external parties in contract research, contract education, patents or start-ups in […]

Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires

A proliferation of companies, government agencies, and higher education institutions are in the grip of what Jerry Z. Muller has termed “metric fixation”. But by tying rewards to metrics, organisations risk incentivising gaming and encouraging behaviours that may be at odds with their larger purpose. The culture of short-termism engendered by metrics also impedes innovation and stifles the entrepreneurial element […]

Developing international guidelines for an effective process of research impact assessment

Governments, funding agencies, and research organisations all over the world are now committed to measuring the impact of research beyond academic publications. Accordingly, a multidisciplinary practice called research impact assessment is rapidly developing. However, this practice remains in its formative stages and so no systematised recommendations or accepted standards to guide researchers and practitioners are currently available. Pavel Ovseiko, Paula […]

Your research has been broadcast to millions – but how do you determine its impact?

The potential of broadcast programming to reach millions of people holds obvious appeal to researchers looking to maximise the dissemination of their work. But when it comes to impact, having vast reach is just one part of the equation – how can the significance of broadcast research be determined? Melissa Grant, Lucy Vernall and Kirsty Hill developed a mixed-methods approach, […]

The neurotic academic: how anxiety fuels casualised academic work

As higher education undergoes a process of marketisation in the UK and the activities of academic staff are increasingly measured and scrutinised, universities are suffused with anxiety. Coupled with pressures facing all staff, casualised academics face multiple forms of insecurity. While anxiety is often perceived as an individual problem for which employees are encouraged to take personal responsibility, Vik Loveday […]

Does not compute: why I’m proposing a moratorium on academics’ use of the term “outputs”

The word “outputs” is now ubiquitous in UK academia, particularly in a REF context that requires authors to think of their publications in such terms. To Kirsten Bell this is jarring, with a term previously more commonly associated with the language of computing or economics, where outputs are measured and monetised, clearly not suitable to academia. It’s ultimately ideas that […]

The role of the self in the research process: reflections on researching the REF as a PhD student

In this short, reflective post, Emily Yarrow considers her experiences as a PhD student researching women’s lived experiences of research evaluation in the UK and particularly the anxieties she felt as a junior researcher interviewing very senior, esteemed academic colleagues. It is important to reflect on the role researchers play in the interviewing and data collection process, and also on […]

A brief history of research impact: how has impact assessment evolved in the UK and Australia?

Over the last couple of decades there has been an international push around the assessment of the wider societal impact of research. Kate Williams and Jonathan Grant document the evolution of research impact assessment in the UK and Australia, and how policies in the two countries have been seemingly interdependent, a back-and-forth process developed through international learning. Continued political commitment […]

Looming REF deadlines lead to a rush in publication of lower quality research

The increased significance of research assessments and their implications for funding and career prospects has had a knock-on effect on academic publication patterns. Moqi Groen-Xu, Pedro A. Teixeira, Thomas Voigt and Bernhard Knapp report on research that reveals a marked increase in research productivity immediately prior to an evaluation deadline, which quickly reverses once the deadline has passed. Moreoever, the […]