The contemporary drive to understand exactly how academic research has had an impact on society represents a major undertaking, with significant resources being expended. However, researchers acknowledge there may be occasions where no amount of time, effort, or funds will identify the impact arising from certain research. Given the considerable effort that has been dedicated to research assessment processes, and […]
Better, fairer, more meaningful research evaluation – in seven hashtags
Considering the future of research assessment, Elizabeth Gadd outlines how she believes research evaluation could be made better, fairer, and more meaningful. The resulting seven guiding principles, neatly framed as hashtags, range from understanding our responsibilities to researchers as people, through to ensuring our evaluations are a more formative process, offering valuable, constructive feedback. Imperial College recently held an event […]
A blueprint for building university-based boundary organisations that achieve impacts on policy and practice
The uptake and integration of scientific research into decision-making processes remains a significant challenge. Many research organisations have begun to experiment with novel institutional structures aimed at enhancing the impact of research on policy and practice. Taking Stockholm University’s Baltic Eye Project as a case study, Marie Löf and Chris Cvitanovic present a blueprint for building university-based boundary organisations, setting […]
The messy business of impact for the social sciences: fear and failure, stealth and seeds
Failure is an inevitable part of any academic career. This may feel especially true for those researchers working to have an impact on politics and policy, with research work always vulnerable to rejection or disregard. Matthew Flinders explains how such precarity brings into sharp focus the messy business of impact for the social sciences: the great problem of sowing seeds […]
Impact from critical research: what might it look like and what support is required?
As demands for demonstrating impact are increasingly woven throughout the funding and institutional architectures of higher education, concerns have been raised that the impact agenda could adversely affect critical and blue-skies research, favouring instead research that lends itself more easily to societal uptake. Ahead of REF 2021, Ruth Machen considers what impact from critical research could look like and how […]
How should we balance the research impact ecosystem?
Currently there is much discussion around research impact as REF 2021 preparations intensify. However, universities that are preoccupied with impact case study submissions to the next exercise may be missing the bigger picture. Jenny Ames emphasises the importance of establishing and nurturing a research impact culture; one that can help a university to achieve its vision more broadly and deliver benefits […]
Guidance on testimonials and statements to corroborate impact
One of the more compelling forms of evidence submitted to REF2014 by universities looking to demonstrate research impact was the corroborating statement or testimonial from a research user or partner organisation. Stephen Kemp provides clear guidance on what these statements should include and aim to convey, while also sharing advice on how they might be sourced, as well as other, […]
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, […]
Impact is crippling higher education. But it is still part of the solution
Now a fixture of the higher education landscape, the “impact agenda” is partly fuelled by a cost-benefit framework that encourages universities to focus on demonstrating the economic value of their interventions. As a consequence, a clear pattern emerges with the government as the main beneficiary of impact, not wider society. Tina Basi and Mona Sloane argue that REF 2021 offers […]
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 […]