Category: REF2021

For the sake of all involved, we should stop the REF clock

Emily Yarrow and Julie Davies argue any benefits of the current March 31st submission date for REF2021 should not outweigh the human costs to the academics and staff currently working to achieve this deadline. The UK is in the midst of the worst health and financial crises for several generations and the REF deadline of … Continued

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

The impacts agenda is an autonomous push for opening up and democratizing academia, not part of a neo-liberal hegemony

Improving academic impact has been given a bad name in some academic circles, who link it to a near-conspiracy theory view of the powers of ‘neo-liberalism’. But Patrick Dunleavy and Jane Tinkler argue that (despite one or two bureaucratic distortions, like the REF), the impacts agenda is centrally about enhancing the efficacy of scientific and … Continued

The rush to research COVID-19 risks compromising research integrity and impact

This is the first post in a six-week series: Rapid or Rushed? exploring rapid response publishing in covid times. Much academic research is currently characterised by a rush to capture the effects of COVID-19. However, impact in the social sciences depends on researchers taking the time to look after themselves, exchange knowledge with others – … Continued

How to tell an impact story? The building blocks you need

At a loss for how to demonstrate impact? Laura Meagher and David Edwards outline a dynamic understanding of impact evaluation comprised of ‘building blocks’. These building blocks are five types of impacts; five broad categories of stakeholders; and eight causal factors, along with a set of over-arching reflective questions.   The increasing pressure placed upon … Continued

Book Review: The Impact Agenda: Controversies, Consequences and Challenges by Katherine E. Smith, Justyna Bandola-Gill, Nasar Meer, Ellen Stewart and Richard Watermeyer

In The Impact Agenda, Katherine E. Smith, Justyna Bandola-Gill, Nasar Meer, Ellen Stewart and Richard Watermeyer bring together research about the impact agenda and its policies into one critical discussion to highlight why it creates the controversies, consequences and challenges of the book’s subtitle. Calling on the UK academic community to seize the opportunity to reshape the impact agenda in more positive and … 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

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

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