The Consultation on the Second Research Excellence Framework (REF) revealed funding bodies’ intention to extend open access policy to also include monographs by the time of the third REF in the mid-2020s. Despite this being some time away, Martin Eve argues that preparations must begin now. The economic challenges of publishing open access monographs are clear, so time should […]
Does high-impact research come at the expense of quality? An automated analysis of the REF impact landscape
As part of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the impact of research was assessed for the first time. But how effective was the impact category in capturing the many diverse forms of interaction between academia and society? Were certain interpretations of impact more highly rewarded than others? And does high-impact research come at the expense of quality? Martin Zaltz […]
Writing is crucial to an academic’s role of producing, shaping and distributing knowledge. However, academic writing itself is increasingly being shaped by the contemporary university’s managerial practices and evaluation frameworks. Sharon McCulloch describes how her research on academics’ writing practices has revealed tensions around the ways in which managerial practices interact with academics’ individual career goals, disciplinary values and […]
What are the organisational contexts in which ‘impactful’ research is produced? Following an empirical analysis of a selection of REF2014 impact case studies, Neil Kellard and Martyna Śliwa discuss the links between impact scores and a variety of important contextual factors. In what might be seen as a challenge to the established hierarchy of HEIs, high scores for research […]
In the States, ‘clinical’ sociologists are frequently hired to address problems within all various organisations and corporations. The UK is still catching up to this, argues Nick Fox. There are some great examples of the use of sociological approaches in public and private sectors, but sociologists interested in applying knowledge to fields of work outside academia need to identify the tools, knowledge […]
The uneven impacts of research impact: Adjustments needed to address the imbalance of the current impact framework.
The current approach to measuring and assessing research impact favours certain kinds of academics and research topics over others. Kat Smith and Ellen Stewart outline three areas that require further consideration. Academics who are negatively impacted by the current framework might look to suggest adjustments which limit or ameliorate these effects.
Academics working in the UK are increasingly encouraged and […]
Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp from the University of the West of England, Bristol offer support for researchers looking to track and evidence the unique, creative and often qualitative outcomes of public engagement and communication activities. Rather than an add-on to the research, it may be possible to embed evaluation within the research project itself.
As science communication researchers and practitioners, we’ve been […]
Peer review and bibliometric indicators just don’t match up according to re-analysis of Italian research evaluation.
The Italian research evaluation agency undertook an extensive analysis to compare the results of peer review and bibliometric indicators for research evaluation. Their findings suggested both indicators produced similar results. Researchers Alberto Baccini and Giuseppe De Nicolao re-examine these results and find notable disagreements between the two techniques of evaluation in the sample and outline below the major shortcoming in the Italian Agency’s […]
Mining the REF impact case studies for lessons on leadership, governance and management in Higher Education.
The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education’s Director of Research, Professor Fiona Ross CBE commissioned Dr Elizabeth Morrow to mine the 2014 REF impact case studies to learn more about leadership, governance and management (LGM) research. The case study data suggests new possibilities for inter-professional collaboration, and also elucidates different types of impact, which may not necessarily be sequential. Furthermore, given the […]
What impact evidence was used in REF 2014? Disciplinary differences in how researchers demonstrate and assess impact
A new report produced by the Digital Science team explores the types of evidence used to demonstrate impact in REF2014 and pulls together guidance from leading professionals on good practice. Here Tamar Loach and Martin Szomszor present a broad look at the the types of evidence in use in the REF impact case studies and reflect on the association between use of […]
The recent UK research assessment exercise, REF2014, attempted to be as fair and transparent as possible. However, Alan Dix, a member of the computing sub-panel, reports how a post-hoc analysis of public domain REF data reveals substantial implicit and emergent bias in terms of discipline sub-areas (theoretical vs applied), institutions (Russell Group vs post-1992), and gender. While metrics are […]
The impact of academia on Parliament: 45 percent of Parliament-focused impact case studies were from social sciences
How does academic research feed into the parliamentary process? Analysing the impact case studies of the 2014 REF, Caroline Kenny draws out potential lessons on how Parliament is currently engaging with academics, and how it might in the future. Impact case studies referring to Parliament were found in all four of the main subject panels, but 45 per cent […]
Jessica Patterson argues the announcement of proposals for a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is bad news indeed for those concerned about a more rapid pace to the marketisation of higher education. Here she outlines five key concerns against a teaching assessment framework given the wider context of greater casualisation and stratification in the workforce and a ‘value for money’ approach […]
Women’s working lives in the managerial university and the pernicious effects of the ‘normal’ academic career.
University faculties need to be able to demonstrate to young people, male and female, that women can be just as inspiring teachers and researchers, and be able to live as enjoyable a domestic life as their male counterparts. Angela McRobbie reflects on how the ideal career track in the academy, suffused with constant benchmarking around ‘excellence’ and the REF’s logic […]
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 […]
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 […]
The Management of Metrics: Globally agreed, unique identifiers for academic staff are a step in the right direction.
The Metric Tide report calls for research managers and administrators to champion the use of responsible metrics within their institutions. Simon Kerridge looks at greater detail at specific institutional actions. Signing up to initiatives such as the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) is a good start. Furthermore, by mandating unique and disambiguated identifiers for academic staff, like ORCID iDs, […]
The Impact of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Impact: A guide to charting more diffuse influences across time.
Reflecting on the complexity of influence an individual research project can have, Adam Briggle, Robert Frodeman and Britt Holbrook try to get a handle on their own research activities and some of their impacts over the last few years. Their project led to a wide variety of results: scholarly articles, a forthcoming book, blogs and a number of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’. But what exactly is […]
Author Katherine Johnson argues for a psychosocial approach that rethinks the relationship between psychic and social realms in the field of sexuality, without reducing it to either. Weaving through an expanse of theoretical and empirical examples drawn from sociology, psychology, queer and cultural studies, she produces an innovative, transdisciplinary perspective on sexual identities, subjectivities and politics. Alexander Blanchard argues […]