Category: research assessment

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 […]

Resist? Welcome? Co-opt? Ignore? The pressures and possibilities of the REF and impact

The increased focus on impact in research evaluation represents a range of possibilities and pressures to those academics whose work is being assessed. For some it offers an opportunity to progress social justice causes and engage in participatory, bottom-up research approaches with less powerful groups; while to others it is further evidence of the managerial audit culture that is corrupting […]

Where are we with responsible metrics? And where might we go next? Reflections from two recent events

Widespread scepticism and concern among researchers, universities, representative bodies and learned societies about the broader use of metrics in research assessment and management has led to concerted efforts to promote the “responsible use” of such metrics. But how effectively are UK higher education institutions engaging with this agenda? Lizzie Gadd reflects on two recent responsible metrics-themed events. While it is […]

From invisibility to impact: radically different measures are needed to capture the true impact of research

Academics are increasingly expected to produce directly applicable solutions to hard-to-solve “real-world” problems such as poverty, development, and environmental degradation. However, conventional assessments of science have not yet been adequately adapted to capture the diverse effects of this type of problem-centred research. Examining a prominent recent example of multidisciplinary research on consumption, environment and sustainability in Ireland, Henrike Rau, Gary […]

The RAE/REF have engendered evaluation selectivity and strategic behaviour, reinforced scientific norms, and further stratified UK higher education

The UK’s periodic research assessment exercise has grown larger and more formalised since its first iteration in 1986. Marcelo Marques, Justin J.W. Powell, Mike Zapp and Gert Biesta have examined what effects it has had on the submitting behaviour of institutions, considering the intended and unintended consequences in the field of education research. Findings reveal growing strategic behaviour, including high […]

2017 in review: round-up of our top posts on research evaluation and impact

Increasing REF’s impact weighting could offer incentive for institutions to address societal, economic and global challenges Challenges posed by events such as Brexit highlight the importance of excellent research programmes. Moreover, they represent a broader context in which the next Research Excellence Framework must consider “impact”. But do current REF proposals go far enough towards doing this? Matthew Guest argues that there […]

Where are the rising stars of research working? Towards a momentum-based look at research excellence

Traditional university rankings and leaderboards are largely an indicator of past performance of academic staff, some of whom conducted the research for which they are most famous elsewhere. Paul X. McCarthy has analysed bibliometric data to see which research institutions are accelerating fastest in terms of output and impact. The same data also offers a glimpse into the future, helping […]

Metrics, recognition, and rewards: it’s time to incentivise the behaviours that are good for research and researchers

Researchers have repeatedly voiced their dissatisfaction with how the journals they publish in are used as a proxy for the evaluation of their work. However, those who wish to break free of this model fear negative consequences for their future funding and careers. Rebecca Lawrence emphasises the importance of addressing researchers’ recognition and reward structures, arguing it is time to […]