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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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    The gendered impact agenda – how might more female academics’ research be submitted as REF impact case studies?

The gendered impact agenda – how might more female academics’ research be submitted as REF impact case studies?

As the impact agenda increases in importance, appropriate consideration should be given to its effects on female academics. The REF has obviously gendered implications, with a number of different factors combining to exacerbate existing inequalities in the academy. Emily Yarrow and Julie Davies have examined impact case study submissions to the REF2014 business and management studies unit of assessment […]

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    Hitting the QR sweet spot: will new REF2021 rules lead to a different kind of game-playing?

Hitting the QR sweet spot: will new REF2021 rules lead to a different kind of game-playing?

Today marks 999 days until the expected deadline for submissions to REF 2021. Universities’ preparations are already well under way, with additional guidance published last autumn in the form of new REF rules designed to reduce game-playing behaviours among institutions. However, as Simon Kerridge observes, the rule changes may have introduced, or rather enhanced, some hidden dangers around universities’ […]

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    Resist? Welcome? Co-opt? Ignore? The pressures and possibilities of the REF and impact

Resist? Welcome? Co-opt? Ignore? The pressures and possibilities of the REF and impact

The increased focus on impact in research evaluation represents a range of possibilities and pressures to those academics whose work is being assessed. For some it offers an opportunity to progress social justice causes and engage in participatory, bottom-up research approaches with less powerful groups; while to others it is further evidence of the managerial audit culture that is […]

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    The RAE/REF have engendered evaluation selectivity and strategic behaviour, reinforced scientific norms, and further stratified UK higher education

The RAE/REF have engendered evaluation selectivity and strategic behaviour, reinforced scientific norms, and further stratified UK higher education

The UK’s periodic research assessment exercise has grown larger and more formalised since its first iteration in 1986. Marcelo Marques, Justin J.W. Powell, Mike Zapp and Gert Biesta have examined what effects it has had on the submitting behaviour of institutions, considering the intended and unintended consequences in the field of education research. Findings reveal growing strategic behaviour, including […]

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    2017 in review: round-up of our top posts on research evaluation and impact

2017 in review: round-up of our top posts on research evaluation and impact

Increasing REF’s impact weighting could offer incentive for institutions to address societal, economic and global challenges
Challenges posed by events such as Brexit highlight the importance of excellent research programmes. Moreover, they represent a broader context in which the next Research Excellence Framework must consider “impact”. But do current REF proposals go far enough towards doing this? Matthew Guest argues that there […]

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    The Social Mobility Commission is dead. So what does this mean for the impacts arising from the social sciences research that informed its reports?

The Social Mobility Commission is dead. So what does this mean for the impacts arising from the social sciences research that informed its reports?

Alan Milburn’s resignation from the Social Mobility Commission likely spells the end for the body that has come to be seen as an exemplar for the use of research evidence in public policy debate. But what happens to the REF potential of the social sciences research that has been cited in the commission’s reports? Can REF panels ignore the […]

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    Policy Fellowships Programme: developing enduring relationships between academia and policymakers

Policy Fellowships Programme: developing enduring relationships between academia and policymakers

Having an impact on policy is an important part of demonstrating the wider contribution of academic work and expertise. The Policy Fellowships Programme was set up as part of a wider commitment to find increased and better ways for scientific expertise and evidence to be considered in public policy. Nicola Buckley and Charlotte Sausman explain the background to the programme, […]

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    Where’s the evidence? Obstacles to impact-gathering and how researchers might be better supported in future

Where’s the evidence? Obstacles to impact-gathering and how researchers might be better supported in future

Despite the increased importance of demonstrating impact, it remains a concept many academics feel ill-equipped to measure or evidence. Clare Wilkinson reveals how researchers from a broad range of disciplines think about evidencing impact, what obstacles might stand in their way, and how they might be further supported in future. Knowledge around research impact continues to exist in siloes, […]

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    Rather than promoting economic value, evaluation can be reclaimed by universities to combat its misuse and negative impacts

Rather than promoting economic value, evaluation can be reclaimed by universities to combat its misuse and negative impacts

To critics across higher education, evaluation frameworks such as the REF and TEF represent mechanisms of control, the generation of a “target and terror” culture. Deirdre Duffy explains how the REF and TEF resonate most closely with impact evaluation, a form of evaluation that can prove useful for a simple cost-benefit analysis but can also be problematic as it […]

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    Credit for research outputs should go to the originating institution but with a transitional arrangement for this REF cycle

Credit for research outputs should go to the originating institution but with a transitional arrangement for this REF cycle

One of the most contentious aspects of the Stern review of the 2014 REF was the recommendation that research outputs should not be portable in future exercises. The subsequent consultation revealed a significant minority to be in support of this, echoing Stern’s concerns that current rules distort investment incentives and encourage rent-seeking. However, a majority opposed this recommendation as […]

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    If academics are serious about research impact they need to learn from monitoring, evaluation and learning teams

If academics are serious about research impact they need to learn from monitoring, evaluation and learning teams

The impact of academic research, particularly on policy and the private sector, is an increasingly important component of research assessment exercises and funding distribution. However, Duncan Green argues that the way many researchers think about their impact continues to be pretty rudimentary. A lack of understanding of who key decision-makers are, a less-than-agile response to real-world events, and difficulties […]

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    “This device is licensed”: the material and immaterial bureaucracy of academic research

“This device is licensed”: the material and immaterial bureaucracy of academic research

Derek Dunne draws attention to the hidden bureaucratic labour that is increasingly a part of academic life. Rather than see this as the “white noise” to be tuned out of everyday working practices, he calls for us to question the forms that are put in front of us demanding our acquiescence, whilst also locating potential sites of resistance.

 

“This device is licensed.”

I […]

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    The REF’s focus on linear and direct impact is problematic and silences certain types of research

The REF’s focus on linear and direct impact is problematic and silences certain types of research

In the last Research Excellence Framework (REF), the new element of research impact was understood in very linear and direct terms. Aoileann Ní Mhurchú, Laura McLeod, Stephanie Collins and Gabriel Siles-Brügge consider how accepted definitions of impact may have had the effect of silencing certain types of research. Research and impact should be seen as a two-way street, where […]

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    Making your Marx in research: Reflections on impact and the efficacy of case studies using the work of Karl Marx.

Making your Marx in research: Reflections on impact and the efficacy of case studies using the work of Karl Marx.

Drawing from a recent study on how impact occurs in the social sciences, Sioned Pearce looks at some specific issues with the case study approach to understanding impact. Viewed alongside the life and works of Karl Marx, the REF’s approach to impact measurement can be seen as highly problematic. Marx’s work was an accumulation of a lifetime of intellectual thought, the […]

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    What makes research excellent? Digging into the measures aimed at quantifying and promoting research excellence.

What makes research excellent? Digging into the measures aimed at quantifying and promoting research excellence.

“Research excellence” is a tricky concept in theory and arguably trickier to capture in practice. Toni Pustovrh shares findings from a recent study which looks at how research is currently quantified and evaluated in Slovenia. In-depth interviews with scientists reveal a variety of views on the concept and the current mechanisms in place. The analysis suggests that neither a predominantly peer-review based […]

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Making space for the academic book of the future

Yesterday Steven Hill spoke at the University Press Redux conference in Liverpool on the role of policy in shaping the academic book of the future. This post is a summary of the argument of his talk. While there is much potential for innovation, the uptake seems slow. Even when we see the benefits of innovation, the change in process […]

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