Category: Research funding

Developing social impact requires the research agenda to move beyond conventional academic boundaries.

The Dutch Senate recently passed a new Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP). The SEP highlights the importance of social impact for research. The new Protocol was developed by the KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), VSNU (Association of Dutch universities) and NWO (Dutch Science Council) and is to be used to evaluate academic research from 2015-2021. Based on recent discussions […]

Evaluation systems need not be perfect: University research assessment and the ongoing quest for simplicity.

In order to get a perfect assessment method, are we at risk of developing systems that are ever more complex and time-consuming? Dorothy Bishop looks at the differences between readily available measures to award research funding and the highly complicated RAE formula. An evaluation system need not be perfect – it just needs to be ‘good enough’ to provide a basis […]

Perceptions and ‘impacts’ of the REF: Key aim for next round should be to explore apprehension and minimise anxieties.

Discussions around the REF have tended to be negative, but academics appear to have experienced the framework in a number of different ways. To understand the variety of themes and important issues, Tony Murphy and Daniel Sage undertook a media analysis that points to the range of concerns academics have around the REF and its processes. They argue there is much that […]

Overhyped and concentrated investments in research funding are leading to unsustainable science bubbles.

David Budtz Pedersen examines how the scientific market exhibits bubble behaviour similar to that of financial markets. Taking as an example the overwhelming investments in neuroscience, such high expectations may actually drain the research system from resources and new ideas. In the end the permanent competition for funding and the lack of ‘risk diversification’, might generate a climate in which citizens and policymakers […]

How competitive should science be? External reward structure may inhibit creative thinking and innovation.

Competition for funding and jobs is often cited as a helpful mechanism for spurning innovation and productivity in science. But Jessica Polka challenges this idea by drawing from the results of an experiment known as Duncker’s candle problem. The experiment revealed external rewards can actually inhibit creative thinking. If science is like the version of the candle problem, are we […]

Performance funding policies in higher education have had little effect on student outcomes.

In a study of over 500 four year post-secondary institutions in all fifty US states from 1993-2010, Amanda Rutherford and Thomas Rabovsky find that current performance funding policies are not associated with higher levels of student performance and that these policies may in fact contribute to lower performance over a longer period of time. However, more recent policies linked to institutional base funding may produce some […]

The role of the Research Funding Officer in building robust and dynamic foundations for impact.

The Research Funding Officer role is increasingly fundamental to impact, growing in importance as bidding becomes more competitive and the impact stakes get higher. Casper Hitchins and Julie Bayley argue that the dramatic elevation of impact in funding applications demands more insightful planning. Focus at the funding application stage not only generates more competitive bids, but also secures resources for the […]

The rejection of metrics for the REF does not take account of existing problems of determining research quality.

Amidst heavy scepticism over the role of metrics in research assessments, Martin Smith wonders whether the flaws of the current system have been fully recognised. There is no system of research assessment that is perfect and peer review may well be a better, although problematic, measure of quality than metrics. But the REF has become disproportionate. The question that arises is […]