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    Better, fairer, more meaningful research evaluation – in seven hashtags

Better, fairer, more meaningful research evaluation – in seven hashtags

Considering the future of research assessment, Elizabeth Gadd outlines how she believes research evaluation could be made better, fairer, and more meaningful. The resulting seven guiding principles, neatly framed as hashtags, range from understanding our responsibilities to researchers as people, through to ensuring our evaluations are a more formative process, offering valuable, constructive feedback.

Imperial College recently held an event […]

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    Impact from critical research: what might it look like and what support is required?

Impact from critical research: what might it look like and what support is required?

As demands for demonstrating impact are increasingly woven throughout the funding and institutional architectures of higher education, concerns have been raised that the impact agenda could adversely affect critical and blue-skies research, favouring instead research that lends itself more easily to societal uptake. Ahead of REF 2021, Ruth Machen considers what impact from critical research could look like and […]

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How should we balance the research impact ecosystem?

Currently there is much discussion around research impact as REF 2021 preparations intensify. However, universities that are preoccupied with impact case study submissions to the next exercise may be missing the bigger picture. Jenny Ames emphasises the importance of establishing and nurturing a research impact culture; one that can help a university to achieve its vision more broadly and deliver […]

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    Guidance on testimonials and statements to corroborate impact

Guidance on testimonials and statements to corroborate impact

One of the more compelling forms of evidence submitted to REF2014 by universities looking to demonstrate research impact was the corroborating statement or testimonial from a research user or partner organisation. Stephen Kemp provides clear guidance on what these statements should include and aim to convey, while also sharing advice on how they might be sourced, as well as […]

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    Your research has been broadcast to millions – but how do you determine its impact?

Your research has been broadcast to millions – but how do you determine its impact?

The potential of broadcast programming to reach millions of people holds obvious appeal to researchers looking to maximise the dissemination of their work. But when it comes to impact, having vast reach is just one part of the equation – how can the significance of broadcast research be determined? Melissa Grant, Lucy Vernall and Kirsty Hill developed a mixed-methods […]

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