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    Was the REF a waste of time? Strong relationship between grant income and quality-related funding allocation.

Was the REF a waste of time? Strong relationship between grant income and quality-related funding allocation.

If the funding allocated to universities on the basis of the REF is correlated to the amount of grant income universities already receive, what is the point of the output assessment process? Jon Clayden explores the relationship between grant income generated and REF-related QR funding and finds a strong correlation between the two, suggesting that the double-counting exercise is surely not the best we […]

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    Amid mounting political and social uncertainty, institutions must evolve to support evidence-based decision-making.

Amid mounting political and social uncertainty, institutions must evolve to support evidence-based decision-making.

Knowledge exchange is a process often discussed in vague detail in relation to research impact. Chris Cvitanovic looks at the available exchange mechanisms for marine scientists and decision-makers. Survey findings suggest that while engaging with decision-makers was important to scientists on a personal level, a range of barriers prevent this from happening. Formal recognition of engagement activities and dedicated funding and resources […]

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    Why did REF2014 cost three times as much as the RAE? Hint: It’s not just because of the added impact element.

Why did REF2014 cost three times as much as the RAE? Hint: It’s not just because of the added impact element.

The benefits of any research assessment framework should ideally outweigh the costs and burden incurred by universities and staff. Derek Sayer argues there should be cause for concern now that recent analysis shows the 2014 REF bill was three times as much as the last UK assessment exercise. The costly increase in staff time was driven by the increased importance […]

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    Doing things differently: By embracing the politics of Higher Education, academics can help create a better system.

Doing things differently: By embracing the politics of Higher Education, academics can help create a better system.

With higher education in constant flux around the latest assessment exercise, to what extent are academics and administrators ‘hitting the target and missing the point’? John Turnpenny discusses the critical role of the arts and humanities and the grudging acceptance of the linear-rational model for evidence-based decision-making. He argues that by acknowledging that higher education policy is something we help create, rather than […]

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    Bad apples or rotten barrels? How sociological thinking can help address financial misconduct.

Bad apples or rotten barrels? How sociological thinking can help address financial misconduct.

A key issue for financial regulators facing the misconduct scandals plaguing the banking industry is deciding whether to use a more agent-centric approach that targets individual behaviour or to implement more structural solutions aimed at wider culture. But without having a clear idea of what the culture is, it is impossible to create adequate prescriptions for improvement. Siân Lewin suggests two ideas […]

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    Using REF results to make simple comparisons is not necessarily responsible. Careful interpretation needed.

Using REF results to make simple comparisons is not necessarily responsible. Careful interpretation needed.

What are the implications of the HEFCEmetrics review for the next REF? Is is easy to forget that the REF is already all about metrics of research performance. Steven Hill, Head of Research Policy at HEFCE, reiterates that like any use of metrics, we need to take great care in how we use and interpret the results of the REF.

This is […]

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    Book Review: Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics

Book Review: Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics

Reviewer Adam Oliver finds that Richard Thaler’s new book, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics, covers the core concepts of behavioural economics, but finds that this book is more a ‘personal intellectual history, supplemented by stories, anecdotes and occasional reposts to past combatants’ that misses two important issues relating to suggestions for the future development of behavioural economics.

This review originally appeared on LSE Review […]

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    The EU is the world’s largest scientific engine and rising – and the UK is currently in the driving seat.

The EU is the world’s largest scientific engine and rising – and the UK is currently in the driving seat.

Modern science is about teams and the EU is a great team needed to take on our 21st century challenges. Here Mike Galsworthy considers the potential consequences that the UK leaving the EU would have on scientific funding and innovation. The EU science funding structure currently enables UK labs to build on the work of diverse and talented multinational science teams.
In the […]

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    Your grant application is about to die: Research teams that recognise gender dimension offer a competitive advantage.

Your grant application is about to die: Research teams that recognise gender dimension offer a competitive advantage.

Funding requirements confirm there is a competitive advantage for research engaged in the active promotion of gender perspectives. Strategic decision-making in universities should also recognise the value a sex and gender dimension adds, both for funding and the quality of research. Curt Rice stresses how social sciences and humanities can help deliver these perspectives more deliberately and explicitly into research.

Last year, the world lost […]

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    Beyond scientific impact: An evaluation approach that captures societal benefit and minimises documentation effort.

Beyond scientific impact: An evaluation approach that captures societal benefit and minimises documentation effort.

To grapple with the the substantial amount of data generated by research evaluations and impact assessments, funders and institutions must look to improve their communication systems. Birge Wolf, Jürgen Heß and Anna Maria Häring are looking to combine evaluation concepts for inter- and trans-disciplinary research with funders’ increasing interests in societal impact data. Improved data sharing mechanisms will provide more support […]

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    Unless we change how we think about transparency, open data is unlikely to have a significant political impact at local level.

Unless we change how we think about transparency, open data is unlikely to have a significant political impact at local level.

Open data and transparency have long been heralded as welcome innovations by policymakers and politicians, and the current Government has made it a priority at both a national and local level. But when it comes to the latter, how effective has it been and how much have citizens made use of it? Mark Frank argues that local authorities continued use […]

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    Should policymakers follow the lead of Facebook and Google and use field experiments to implement better services?

Should policymakers follow the lead of Facebook and Google and use field experiments to implement better services?

In this article, Robert Metcalfe argues that field experiments can be instrumental in helping policymakers understand how to improve the welfare of their citizens. Field experiments represent a relatively new methodological approach capable of measuring the causal links between variables, thereby allowing policymakers to understand the behavioural responses of their citizens to changes in policies.

Do neighbourhoods matter to outcomes? Which classroom […]

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    Literacy as Numbers: The efficacy, merits and validity of transnational literacy assessment programmes.

Literacy as Numbers: The efficacy, merits and validity of transnational literacy assessment programmes.

Debates about the nature of literacy and how to account for the diversity of learning are far from resolved. A new book, Literacy as Numbers, looks at how literacy itself is being reframed around globalized assessment regimes. Camilla Addey delves into how these comparable numbers, now so heavily relied on in national policy, are produced, and how they are shaping our understanding of the meanings and […]

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    The Future of Knowledge Sharing for Development in a Digital Age: Delivering an open and fair digital society.

The Future of Knowledge Sharing for Development in a Digital Age: Delivering an open and fair digital society.

Rachel Playforth introduces a new report on how digital technologies might contribute to or damage development agendas in the coming years. Through scenario development planning, the project investigated the landscape of developing countries in the digital age and how practitioners and policymakers might best respond. None of the scenarios below represents the most desirable outcome, but by working backwards from an ideal […]

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