The A to Z of writing an impact case study

With submission to REF 2021 now less than two years away, university staff and academics are stepping up work to present their best examples of research impact in the form of compelling impact case studies. In thinking about how to approach writing these documents, Sally Brown has compiled this useful A to Z; from understanding your impact aim, all […]

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    The evaluative inquiry: a new approach to research evaluation

The evaluative inquiry: a new approach to research evaluation

Contemporary research evaluation systems are often criticised for negative effects they can have on academic environments and even on knowledge production itself. Established in response to many of these criticisms, the evaluative inquiry is a new, less standardised approach to research assessment. Tjitske Holtrop outlines the four principles that give shape to the evaluative inquiry’s method: employing versatile methods; […]

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Let’s focus on the research process, not the outputs

The outsized importance of publications has meant too many research students focus on featuring papers in prestigous journals, despite having success in doing so feeling like something of a lottery. To Mattias Björnmalm, a strong focus on the research output instead of the research process is detrimental to research itself. Research is about increasing our understanding of the world […]

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    Towards more consistent, transparent, and multi-purpose national bibliographic databases for research output

Towards more consistent, transparent, and multi-purpose national bibliographic databases for research output

National bibliographic databases for research output collect metadata on universities’ scholarly publications, such as journal articles, monographs, and conference papers. As this sort of research information is increasingly used in assessments, funding allocation, and other academic reward structures, the value in developing comprehensive and reliable national databases becomes more and more clear. Linda Sīle, Raf Guns and Tim Engels […]

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    Could it all be much ado about nothing? A tragicomic perspective on research impact

Could it all be much ado about nothing? A tragicomic perspective on research impact

The contemporary drive to understand exactly how academic research has had an impact on society represents a major undertaking, with significant resources being expended. However, researchers acknowledge there may be occasions where no amount of time, effort, or funds will identify the impact arising from certain research. Given the considerable effort that has been dedicated to research assessment processes, […]

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    Developing approaches to research impact assessment and evaluation: lessons from a Canadian health research funder

Developing approaches to research impact assessment and evaluation: lessons from a Canadian health research funder

Assessing research impact is complex and challenging, but essential for understanding the link between research funding investments and outcomes both within and beyond academia. Julia Langton provides an overview of how a Canadian health research funder approaches impact assessment; urging caution in the use of quantitative data, highlighting the importance of organisation-wide capacity-building, and outlining the value of a […]

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    Can we have it all? Navigating trade-offs between research excellence, development impact, and collaborative research processes

Can we have it all? Navigating trade-offs between research excellence, development impact, and collaborative research processes

The “gold standard” of impactful international development research involves equitable north-south partnership, interdisciplinary collaboration, and co-production with non-academic actors, ideally including local communities. Such participatory and collaborative approaches are intended to have longer-term benefits, strengthening capacity for research, innovation, and knowledge exchange. Admirable though this may sound, it’s easy to see how it might appear overwhelming to researchers expected […]

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    Internal vs. external promotion, part two: seven advantages of internal promotion, plus some general tips for both

Internal vs. external promotion, part two: seven advantages of internal promotion, plus some general tips for both

In the second and final part of a series considering the relative merits of pursuing internal or external promotions, Anne-Wil Harzing sets out why seeking advancement internally might be a more attractive option, again highlighting seven specific reasons. The series concludes with some more general tips for promotion applications, including how to harness your experience submitting to academic journals.

The […]

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    Internal vs. external promotion, part one: seven reasons why external promotion is easier

Internal vs. external promotion, part one: seven reasons why external promotion is easier

Climbing the academic career ladder can be a slow, frustrating, and opaque process. Some academics may be unsure whether to seek promotion within their own institutions or to look to another university for advancement opportunities. In the first of a two-part series, Anne-Wil Harzing sets out the relative merits of pursuing internal or external promotions. This first instalment outlines […]

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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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    Developing a “responsible assessment” system to improve research impact: a case study from Catalonia

Developing a “responsible assessment” system to improve research impact: a case study from Catalonia

Many lessons can be drawn from the burgeoning discourse on research impact assessment. Paula Adam, Maite Solans-Domènech, Núria Radó-Trilla, Toni Dedeu and Albert Barberà explain how they have applied these to the design of a health research assessment system in Catalonia, one that helps to embed impact from the early stages of a research programme. Emphasising the importance of […]

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    Using citation metrics as part of academic recruitment decisions leads to an increase in self-citations

Using citation metrics as part of academic recruitment decisions leads to an increase in self-citations

The use of citation metrics in academic hiring and promotion decisions was intended as a response to important and legitimate concerns over the meritocracy of recruitment procedures. However, evidence suggests that doing so distorts scientists’ behaviour and increases the risk that these measures become unreliable. Marco Seeber, Mattia Cattaneo, Michele Meoli and Paolo Malighetti investigated the use of citation […]

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    Despite becoming increasingly institutionalised, there remains a lack of discourse about research metrics among much of academia

Despite becoming increasingly institutionalised, there remains a lack of discourse about research metrics among much of academia

The active use of metrics in everyday research activities suggests academics have accepted them as standards of evaluation, that they are “thinking with indicators”. Yet when asked, many academics profess concern about the limitations of evaluative metrics and the extent of their use. Why is there such a discrepancy between principle and practices pertaining to metrics? Lai Ma suggests […]

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    Beyond #FakeScience: how to overcome shallow certainty in scholarly communication

Beyond #FakeScience: how to overcome shallow certainty in scholarly communication

Recent media reports in Germany have brought renewed focus on predatory publishing practices and seen a notably increased use of the term “fake science”. But to what extent is this a worsening problem? Lambert Heller argues that predatory publishing has never really become a big thing, and that it became a thing at all is largely attributable to the simple […]

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    There is an absence of scientific authority over research assessment as a professional practice, leaving a gap that has been filled by database providers

There is an absence of scientific authority over research assessment as a professional practice, leaving a gap that has been filled by database providers

Research metrics have become more established as a means to assess research performance. This is understandable given research institutions’ and funders’ demand for assessment techniques that are relatively cheap and universally applicable, even though use of such metrics remains strongly contested within scientific communities. But to what extent does the academic research field of evaluative citation analysis confer legitimacy […]

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    Playing the game: academics have bought into the competition and become complicit in their exploitation

Playing the game: academics have bought into the competition and become complicit in their exploitation

The managerialist logic that has permeated universities has had a clear impact on academic work. To Senia Kalfa, Adrian Wilkinson and Paul J. Gollan, academia has become like a game, with academics competing with each other for just a handful of permanent positions and focused completely on accumulating the capital (publications, grant income, etc.) needed to secure one. Rather […]

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    Making research evaluation processes in Europe more transparent

Making research evaluation processes in Europe more transparent

Researchers repeatedly cite career advancement as a key incentive for their practices and behaviours. This is critical to understanding the pace of change in scholarly communications, as those researchers inclined to innovate or experiment with new forms of research outputs, methodologies, or communication styles risk being penalised by the evaluation system used by many research institutions that are slow […]

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    How to compare apples with oranges: using interdisciplinary “exchange rates” to evaluate publications across disciplines

How to compare apples with oranges: using interdisciplinary “exchange rates” to evaluate publications across disciplines

Academic research performance is typically assessed on the basis of scientific productivity. While the number of publications may provide an accurate and useful metric of research performance within one discipline, interdisciplinary comparisons of publication counts prove much more problematic. To solve this problem, Timo Korkeamäki, Jukka Sihvonen, and Sami Vähämaa introduce interdisciplinary “exchange rates”, which can be used to […]

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    Making visible the impact of researchers working in languages other than English: developing the PLOTE index

Making visible the impact of researchers working in languages other than English: developing the PLOTE index

As outlined in the Leiden Manifesto, if impact is understood in terms of citations to international publications, a bias is created against research which is regionally focused and engaged with local society problems. This is particularly critical for researchers working in contexts with languages other than English. Peter Dahler-Larsen has developed the PLOTE index, a new indicator which hopes […]

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    Six principles for assessing scientists for hiring, promotion, and tenure

Six principles for assessing scientists for hiring, promotion, and tenure

The negative consequences of relying too heavily on metrics to assess research quality are well known, potentially fostering practices harmful to scientific research such as p-hacking, salami science, or selective reporting. The “flourish or perish” culture defined by these metrics in turn drives the system of career advancement in academia, a system that empirical evidence has shown to be […]

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