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    Measuring knowledge exchange – the road to societal impact?

Measuring knowledge exchange – the road to societal impact?

Given the well-known difficulties of measuring the full impact of universities, it may be better to focus instead on knowledge exchange, the process by which the societal impact of scientific knowledge is realised. For Frank Zwetsloot and Anika Duut van Goor, “contract income” – the financial investments made by external parties in contract research, contract education, patents or start-ups […]

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    Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires

Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires

A proliferation of companies, government agencies, and higher education institutions are in the grip of what Jerry Z. Muller has termed “metric fixation”. But by tying rewards to metrics, organisations risk incentivising gaming and encouraging behaviours that may be at odds with their larger purpose. The culture of short-termism engendered by metrics also impedes innovation and stifles the entrepreneurial […]

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    Gender and advancement in higher education’s prestige economy

Gender and advancement in higher education’s prestige economy

What does it take to climb the career ladder in UK academia? And who gets to the top? Camille B. Kandiko Howson reports on research that highlights the role of prestige and “indicators of esteem” in hiring and promotion decisions. Prestige is found to be a gendered concept, with the indicators of esteem – publication rates, first author status, […]

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    Applying the sociological imagination: a toolkit for tomorrow’s graduates

Applying the sociological imagination: a toolkit for tomorrow’s graduates

Given how sociological concepts, theories, and perspectives can be applied to many of the relatively smaller problems of everyday life, such as improving urban spaces or enhancing work and productivity, it’s odd that the majority of sociology done in the UK remains behind closed doors, in lecture rooms, academic libraries, and conference halls. Nick Fox explains how a group […]

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    Random audits could shift the incentive for researchers from quantity to quality

Random audits could shift the incentive for researchers from quantity to quality

The drive to publish papers has created a hyper-competitive research environment in which researchers who take care to produce relatively few high-quality papers are out-competed by those who cut corners so their bibliometrics look good. Adrian Barnett suggests one way to push back against the pressure to “publish or perish” is to randomly audit a small proportion of researchers […]

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    It’s not enough for research to be useful to policy actors, we must try to actually influence change

It’s not enough for research to be useful to policy actors, we must try to actually influence change

There is no doubt that good communications and framing research and evidence for your audience is important to influencing policy and having research impact. But shouldn’t we be aiming higher than producing and packaging research that simply meets the demands of policy actors? Surely what we actually want to do is influence change, not reinforce social and political norms? […]

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    Book Review: Publish or Perish: Perceived Benefits versus Unintended Consequences by Imad A. Moosa

Book Review: Publish or Perish: Perceived Benefits versus Unintended Consequences by Imad A. Moosa

Academics today have to publish to succeed. In Publish or Perish: Perceived Benefits versus Unintended Consequences, Imad A. Moosa assesses the disastrous consequences of this view for academics, both personally and academically. Review by James Hartley.

This review originally appeared on LSE Review of Books and is published under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 UK license.

Publish or Perish: Perceived Benefits Versus Unintended Consequences. Imad A. […]

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Is peer review bad for your mental health?

Amidst fears of a mental health crisis in higher education, to what extent is the peer review process a contributing factor? It’s a process fraught with uncertainty, as authors try to forge something constructive from often mixed feedback or occasionally downright unhelpful comments. Helen Kara stresses the importance of being aware of the effects of uncertainty and taking steps […]

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    PhD students supervised collectively rather than individually are quicker to complete their theses

PhD students supervised collectively rather than individually are quicker to complete their theses

Given the choice, most PhD students would prefer to receive individual supervision rather than be supervised alongside their peers as part of a collective. This is understandable, given the undivided attention and precise, directly relevant advice one would receive. However, Hans Agné and Ulf Mörkenstam have compared the experiences of individually and collectively supervised students on the same doctoral […]

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    The neurotic academic: how anxiety fuels casualised academic work

The neurotic academic: how anxiety fuels casualised academic work

As higher education undergoes a process of marketisation in the UK and the activities of academic staff are increasingly measured and scrutinised, universities are suffused with anxiety. Coupled with pressures facing all staff, casualised academics face multiple forms of insecurity. While anxiety is often perceived as an individual problem for which employees are encouraged to take personal responsibility, Vik […]

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    Book Review: How to be an Academic Superhero: Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities by Iain Hay

Book Review: How to be an Academic Superhero: Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities by Iain Hay

In How to be an Academic Superhero: Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Iain Hay offers a guide to how early-career academics can develop their careers while meeting the ever-growing expectations of universities. While the book does not overtly challenge the institutional demand for scholars to be “academic superheroes” and occasionally offers contradictory advice, Iván […]

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    Does not compute: why I’m proposing a moratorium on academics’ use of the term “outputs”

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 […]

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    Student data systems and GovTech apps will increase competition and performance measurement in higher education

Student data systems and GovTech apps will increase competition and performance measurement in higher education

Current debates in higher education policy have drawn attention to the significant impacts of marketisation, metrics, and performance management on the sector. Ben Williamson argues that a restructuring of the data infrastructure is shaping these HE trends. An examination of the HE data infrastructure reveals the political aspirations coded into its architecture, the actors involved in its production, and […]

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    The proportion of co-authored research articles has risen markedly in recent decades

The proportion of co-authored research articles has risen markedly in recent decades

The proportion of multi-authored papers in the social sciences has risen steadily over recent decades. But what are the reasons behind such a marked increase? Lukas Kuld and John O’Hagan consider a number of explanations, from increased academic specialisation and more affordable communication and travel, to the pressures of publication and an inclination among authors to spread the risks […]

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    How are academic lives sustained? Gender and the ethics of care in the neoliberal accelerated academy

How are academic lives sustained? Gender and the ethics of care in the neoliberal accelerated academy

Intensifying work demands under “new managerial” practices are changing academics’ experiences. In this environment, how are academic lives sustained? Which model of science are we engaging in? And what part does gender play? Ester Conesa explores how existing gender biases in the academy are exacerbated by caring work – still mostly taken on by women – not being properly […]

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    “Cutting through”: overcoming the barriers to academic engagement with policy processes

“Cutting through”: overcoming the barriers to academic engagement with policy processes

A lack of access and poor communication are often cited as reasons why academic research is not widely used by policymakers. But what about the challenges for researchers engaging with decision-makers such as parliaments? Lindsay Walker, Lindsey Pike, Marsha Wood and Hannah Durrant have surveyed more than 400 research professionals and identified some clear barriers, with heavy workloads and […]

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    A brief history of research impact: how has impact assessment evolved in the UK and Australia?

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 […]

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    Looming REF deadlines lead to a rush in publication of lower quality research

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, […]

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This work by LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.