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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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    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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    Rather than narrow our definition of impact, we should use metrics to explore richness and diversity of outcomes.

Rather than narrow our definition of impact, we should use metrics to explore richness and diversity of outcomes.

Impact is multi-dimensional, the routes by which impact occur are different across disciplines and sectors, and impact changes over time. Jane Tinkler argues that if institutions like HEFCE specify a narrow set of impact metrics, more harm than good would come to universities forced to limit their understanding of how research is making a difference. But qualitative and quantitative indicators continue […]

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    The Management of Metrics: Globally agreed, unique identifiers for academic staff are a step in the right direction.

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, […]

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Book Review: Sexuality: A Psychosocial Manifesto

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 […]

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    Influential, international and interdisciplinary: The impact of the UK’s research.

Influential, international and interdisciplinary: The impact of the UK’s research.

The Policy Institute at King’s College London, along with colleagues in the digital humanities department, teamed up with technology company Digital Science to build a searchable database and produce a rich analysis of the impact case studies for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Saba Hinrichs and Jonathan Grant introduce the key findings of the analysis and explain how the resource […]

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    Book Review: Rank Hypocrisies: the Insult of the REF by Derek Sayer.

Book Review: Rank Hypocrisies: the Insult of the REF by Derek Sayer.

Publication of the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework evaluation of the quality of work undertaken in all UK universities last December attracted much attention, as league tables of university and department standings were constructed and estimates of the financial consequences of the achieved grades were assessed. Soon after that, a book was published savagely criticising the peer […]

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    Impact doesn’t have to be a dirty word – staying positive about the promotion of scientific excellence.

Impact doesn’t have to be a dirty word – staying positive about the promotion of scientific excellence.

The research funding landscape looks bleak in many areas at present, but that’s all the more reason to focus on success stories, argues Ben McCluskey. Universities are doing great work to bring jobs and money into the regions they serve, but they should be supported by a framework based on national cooperation, not competition.

In light of the incredible research […]

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    Governing through unhappiness: Audit culture and the lasting effects of the REF.

Governing through unhappiness: Audit culture and the lasting effects of the REF.

After the REF dust settled on 2014, what will come next for the higher education sector? Will Davies breaks down audit culture and describes neoliberalism as the ‘disenchantment of politics by economics’ where processes traditionally left in the realm of politics must now be reconfigured in calculative, economically rational terms. When audit becomes married to rapidly shrinking budgets, and […]

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    Against REFonomics: Quantification cannot satisfy the demands of rationality, equity and tolerability.

Against REFonomics: Quantification cannot satisfy the demands of rationality, equity and tolerability.

Academics are assured by government ministers and institutional heads that research assessment is designed on their behalf. Liz Morrish looks at whether the assessment tools created have extended their reach and left academics exposed. At its best, the REF distorts research agendas and priorities. However, a graver hazard is that a new selective and competitive academic will be formed, whose […]

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    In the wake of the REF, LSE launches impact website to demonstrate how research can make a difference.

In the wake of the REF, LSE launches impact website to demonstrate how research can make a difference.

Love it or loathe it, impact is fast becoming the buzz word in UK academia.  To coincide with the release of the REF2014 results on 18 December 2014, which will demonstrate how well (or otherwise) UK academia is creating impact from its research beyond the academy, LSE is joining the growing number of UK higher education institutions to showcase […]

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    Time for REFlection: HEFCE look ahead to provide rounded evaluation of the REF.

Time for REFlection: HEFCE look ahead to provide rounded evaluation of the REF.

Head of Research Policy at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Steven Hill, presents an overview of the work HEFCE are currently commissioning which they are hoping will build a robust evidence base for research assessment. He argues that attention on the costs, benefits, problems and solutions of the REF are an obvious starting point, but it is also important that the […]

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    Predicting the results of the REF using departmental h-index: A look at biology, chemistry, physics, and sociology.

Predicting the results of the REF using departmental h-index: A look at biology, chemistry, physics, and sociology.

Can metrics be used instead of peer review for REF-type assessments? With the stakes so high, any replacement would have to be extremely accurate. Olesya Mryglod, Ralph Kenna, Yurij Holovatch and Bertrand Berche looked at two metric candidates, including the departmental h-index, and four subject areas: biology, chemistry, physics and sociology. The correlations are significant, but comparisons with RAE indicate that […]

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    Collaborative ‘science of science’ needed to ensure research and education make a difference to practice.

Collaborative ‘science of science’ needed to ensure research and education make a difference to practice.

Zoë Sheppard, Vanora Hundley, Edwin van Teijlingen and Paul Thompson of Bournemouth University present the challenges of impact in healthcare recently discussed at a symposium held by the Centre of Postgraduate Medical Research and Education at Bournemouth University. Given the imminent results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014, the summarised findings and issues raised on the implementation of impact point to further collaborations needed on […]

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December 15th, 2014|Government, Impact, REF 2014|0 Comments|
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    Time to abandon the gold standard? Peer review for the REF falls far short of internationally accepted standards.

Time to abandon the gold standard? Peer review for the REF falls far short of internationally accepted standards.

The REF2014 results are set to be published next month. Alongside ongoing reviews of research assessment, Derek Sayer points to the many contradictions of the REF. Metrics may have problems, but a process that gives such extraordinary gatekeeping power to individual panel members is far worse. Ultimately, measuring research quality is fraught with difficulty. Perhaps we should instead be asking which […]

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

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 […]

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    Five Minutes with Trish Greenhalgh: “We need to be clear that research impact isn’t a single dimension.”

Five Minutes with Trish Greenhalgh: “We need to be clear that research impact isn’t a single dimension.”

Trish Greenhalgh is currently Dean for Research Impact at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. In discussion with Managing Editor Sierra Williams she delves into the nature of academic impact and the remit of her appointment. She finds that many academics still have a naïve and overly rationalistic view of how their work might link with policy. Drawing on the […]

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    Research impact on policy-making is often understood in instrumentalist terms, but more often plays symbolic role.

Research impact on policy-making is often understood in instrumentalist terms, but more often plays symbolic role.

The idea that research should have an impact on policy is premised on an instrumentalist, or problem-solving theory of research utilisation: namely, that research is valued by policy-makers as a means of adjusting their outputs. Yet Christina Boswell’s research has shown that expert knowledge is just as likely to be valued for its symbolic function: as a means of […]

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

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 […]

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