Between knotweed and the deep blue sky: Exploring the debate about the value of science

Is investment in blue-sky research only a good idea because it may lead to marketable discoveries? Brigitte Nerlich thinks not and warns that a stronger semantic link needs to be established between blue-sky research and non-instrumental research; one that cannot be gnawed through by those engaged in an academic rat-race Knotweeds and rats Last week (1 June, 2012) and I was reading the […]

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June 7th, 2012|Impact, REF2014|2 Comments|

When was the last time you asked how your published research was doing?

As citation counts, h-indexes, and impact become increasingly important to matters of funding and promotion, Melissa Terras asks why more scholars are not chasing up publishers to find out how their work is faring among the online audience, and makes some pleasing discoveries on how her own research has been received. A month or so ago, I posted about whether […]

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Are institutions over-reacting to impact?

It’s understandable that academics whose research area does not lend itself to impact and those whose roles are mainly teaching will feel alienated by the impact agenda. Adam Golberg writes that increased recognition for one type of academic activity need not be interpreted as an attack on the status and importance of others. There was an interesting article and leader in last […]

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May 15th, 2012|Impact, REF2014|2 Comments|

How predictable is the REF?

As universities prepare their submissions to the Research Excellence Framework, it’s important to know whether the results of the REF could be approximated using other proxy measures. Patrick Dunleavy has argued vocally for using bibliometrics however, Chris Hanretty investigates how predictable the REF is — and whether we can generate predictions now based on leading indicators of “research excellence”. One […]

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April 24th, 2012|Impact, REF2014|2 Comments|

The REF doesn’t capture what government wants from academics or how academic impact on policymaking takes place

Following on from the recent debate at the ‘From Research to Policy: Academic Impacts on Government’ conference, Jane Tinkler finds that the academic expertise and luck required for a piece of research to be considered valuable by government in policymaking is not valued by the Research Excellence Framework. This month saw the second major event from the Impact of Social […]

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It’s possible to take advantage of the REF – to work between its lines – and approach it as an exercise in reconstructing the knowledge translations that researchers enacted in the past.

Alongside petitions against the REF, we have also seen the growth of campaign groups that promote the impact of academic research. Simon Smith charts the concerns and counterarguments made by HEFCE and its critics and ends up finding cause for optimism.   My interest in the REF really began when I became aware of the UCU petition against the inclusion […]

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March 5th, 2012|Impact, REF2014|1 Comment|

The REF will strangle our vibrant academic community: it will alter morale, academic valuation of our work, and the way in which we do it

As researchers debate ideas of how to create an academic impact in preparation for the REF, Dr Peter Wells looks at the impact that the REF stands to have on academics, their morale and the ways in which they work.   The main avowed purpose of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is as a mechanism to inform the distribution of […]

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January 23rd, 2012|Impact, REF2014|3 Comments|

The REF follows a model which ignores academic engagement with the public and is already being rejected by US researchers for being ‘outdated’.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is too busy playing catch-up with American styles of impact assessment to notice that its model is tired, old and outdated, argues Danny Quah. Any assessment of academic impact must include engagement with the public, and therefore must acknowledge the growth of academic blogging. . Mark Thoma’s thoughtful article, “New Forms of Communication and the […]

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Levelling the playing field: maternity leave, paternity leave and the REF

For many academics, balancing research life and family life is a great challenge, and one which has not always been adequately taken account of by research assessments. Professor Athene Donald considers the initial recommendations regarding maternity leave in the REF, and welcomes the most recent HEFCE statement on this important issue. The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which has been used […]

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November 7th, 2011|REF2014|2 Comments|

Unclear REF provisions stand to punish academics who take brief maternity leaves. Researchers should be allowed to submit a reduced number of outputs in line for each period of leave taken.

As the consultation deadline for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) draws closer, Dr Anne Haour considers whether current provisions may penalize academics who have had children within the last funding cycle but have been unable to take more than 14 months in maternity leave to care for them. A response from HEFCE is also included at the end of this […]

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Cite or Site? The current view of what constitutes ‘academic publishing’ is too limited. Our published work must become truly public.

Producing papers for a growing number of journals with an ever shrinking audience risks diminishing the potential of the impact of academic work. Pat Lockley and Mark Carrigan consider the incentives of the current system of academic publishing and call for a new definition. Cite or site? Citation, or the seeking of capital via academic publishing, is obviously unavoidable for […]

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Opposition to impact criteria stems from disciplines wanting to retain their own systems of quality control and their distinctive identities.

The inclusion of impact measurement in the 2014 REF has generated anxiety and unease for academics, especially those in the humanities. This anxiety is connected to the university’s need to preserve disciplinary autonomy writes Jon Adams, who considers how impact passes a crucial element of control out of the hands of the departments, and into the hands of the public. […]

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Impact is a strong weapon for making an evidence-based case for enhanced research support but a state-of-the-art approach to measurement is needed

Research impact may be a new feature of the Research Excellence Framework, but the research evaluation community has been assessing impact since the 1990s. Claire Donovan believes it is time to stop reinventing the wheel and to ask what, after nearly two decades of development, is state-of-the-art in assessing research impact? In the UK there has been scant engagement between […]

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Across Europe there is a fundamental failure to agree on the value of research. Classifying academic and government perspectives on impact is a step towards settling the debate

The questions of defining ‘impact’ and confirming the value of academic research are hot topics for the higher education community not only in the UK, but around the world. Paul Benneworth, project leader at HERAVALUE, here discusses three communities with interests in impact – governments looking for impact, researchers investigating impact, and academics who deliver the impact – and argues […]

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HEFCE are still missing a trick in not adopting citations analysis. But plans for the REF have at least become more realistic about what the external impacts of academic work are

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) remains deeply conservative in not using citations analysis for academic assessment. But it has now changed its previous policies of ‘asking for the moon’ when judging the external impacts of academic research. Patrick Dunleavy finds that HEFCE’s definition of what counts as an external impact has been greatly broadened. The criteria for […]

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The use of social media in higher education can be a positive step towards bridging the digital divide, but it is not a fail-safe measure

Social media can be a transformative tool in the dissemination of research writes Dr Sarah-Louise Quinnell, yet the key to using these techniques is that we must ensure that through them we maximise impact and engagement rather than perpetuate or compound exclusion. In my previous post I discussed how I had used social media applications in my research. One of […]

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The current impact agenda could consider the impact of inspirational teaching, not just research

Some academics are unhappy with the focus of the research impact agenda and have questioned the new framework and criteria. John Parkinson writes that it could benefit from looking also at the potential of teaching to connect with and inspire students, rather than focusing solely on the impact of research. The idea that the research impact agenda is measuring the […]

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Research funding must be allocated on the basis of quality to ensure the long term sustainability of the UK’s research base

The quality of academic research is a driver of scale, not vice-versa, argues Mark Leach of University Alliance, whose latest report concludes that concentration of resources on the basis of size will not improve research excellence. University Alliance’s commitment to research is critical to our broader aim to drive innovation and growth in the UK. We have been consistent in […]

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