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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 metric tide is rising: HEFCEmetrics report argues metrics should support, not supplant, expert judgement.

The metric tide is rising: HEFCEmetrics report argues metrics should support, not supplant, expert judgement.

James Wilsdon introduces the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management. The review found that the production and consumption of metrics remains contested and open to misunderstanding. Wider use of quantitative indicators, and the emergence of alternative metrics for societal impact, could support the transition to a more open, accountable and outward-facing research system. But […]

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    Job security for early career researchers is a significant factor in helping research make an impact.

Job security for early career researchers is a significant factor in helping research make an impact.

Doctorate holders’ careers are increasingly diverse and research funders have a strong interest in exploring how their investment has contributed to the career paths of the researchers supported and how their work benefits society. Funders are also looking to understand the challenges, bottlenecks and opportunities at different career stages in order to tailor policies and activities to researchers’ needs. Siobhan […]

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    The EU is the world’s largest scientific engine and rising – and the UK is currently in the driving seat.

The EU is the world’s largest scientific engine and rising – and the UK is currently in the driving seat.

Modern science is about teams and the EU is a great team needed to take on our 21st century challenges. Here Mike Galsworthy considers the potential consequences that the UK leaving the EU would have on scientific funding and innovation. The EU science funding structure currently enables UK labs to build on the work of diverse and talented multinational science teams.
In the […]

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    Your grant application is about to die: Research teams that recognise gender dimension offer a competitive advantage.

Your grant application is about to die: Research teams that recognise gender dimension offer a competitive advantage.

Funding requirements confirm there is a competitive advantage for research engaged in the active promotion of gender perspectives. Strategic decision-making in universities should also recognise the value a sex and gender dimension adds, both for funding and the quality of research. Curt Rice stresses how social sciences and humanities can help deliver these perspectives more deliberately and explicitly into research.

Last year, the world lost […]

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    Beyond scientific impact: An evaluation approach that captures societal benefit and minimises documentation effort.

Beyond scientific impact: An evaluation approach that captures societal benefit and minimises documentation effort.

To grapple with the the substantial amount of data generated by research evaluations and impact assessments, funders and institutions must look to improve their communication systems. Birge Wolf, Jürgen Heß and Anna Maria Häring are looking to combine evaluation concepts for inter- and trans-disciplinary research with funders’ increasing interests in societal impact data. Improved data sharing mechanisms will provide more support […]

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    Reputation instead of obligation: forging new policies to motivate academic data sharing.

Reputation instead of obligation: forging new policies to motivate academic data sharing.

Despite strong support from funding agencies and policy makers academic data sharing sees hardly any adoption among researchers. Current policies that try to foster academic data sharing fail, as they try to either motivate researchers to share for the common good or force researchers to publish their data. Instead, Dr Sascha Friesike, Benedikt Fecher, Marcel Hebing, and Stephanie Linek argue that […]

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    Elsevier’s new sharing policy is really a reversal of the rights of authors.

Elsevier’s new sharing policy is really a reversal of the rights of authors.

Virgina Barbour takes to task publishing giant Elsevier for their latest round of introduced restrictions on the sharing of academic research. Their new policy states that, if no article processing charge is paid, an author’s accepted version of the article cannot be made publicly available via their institution’s repository until after the embargo period, which can ranges from six months to […]

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    “Who would want to live in a world made up entirely of scientists?” Australia’s Chief Scientist calls for cooperation

“Who would want to live in a world made up entirely of scientists?” Australia’s Chief Scientist calls for cooperation

Reporting on a recent workshop where Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb outlined the key priorities for research and funding, Jacqui Hoepner discusses the long-term future of Australian research. Professor Chubb stressed the importance of having a broader national conversation about how they will achieve societal change and how researchers should work to meet those ends.

A few weeks ago Australia’s […]

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    The Rise of the Self-Funded Studentship and What It Says about Academia

The Rise of the Self-Funded Studentship and What It Says about Academia

Mark Carrigan draws attention to the growing popularity of self-funded studentships. This option may appeal to cash-strapped academic departments, but these positions are likely to undermine the assumption that this kind of work should be paid, whilst simultaneously privileging those who can work for free. As research funding continues to be squeezed, it is likely practices like this will proliferate.

I see the ‘self-funded studentship’ as a sign […]

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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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    Gold open access in practice: How will universities respond to the rising total cost of publication?

Gold open access in practice: How will universities respond to the rising total cost of publication?

Are universities able to shoulder the costs of the open access transition? Stephen Pinfield presents findings on the current state of institutional costs. The total cost of publication is defined as existing subscription costs, article processing charges (APCs) and the costs of administering them. So is the total cost of publication rising for universities overall? In the short term at […]

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    The grant economy as tragedy of the commons – are researchers just wasting time by applying for ever-elusive funding?

The grant economy as tragedy of the commons – are researchers just wasting time by applying for ever-elusive funding?

Pressure to bring in grants is steady and increasing, but with only 20% of US applications receiving funding, is the collective time spent writing multiple rejected applications actually worth it? Unless the pool of grant funding is massively increased at the federal level—a remote possibility—this is a zero-sum game. Elizabeth Popp Berman suggests a cap to the number of applications—either at […]

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    Academia is a reputation economy — data-sharing policies should take incentives into account.

Academia is a reputation economy — data-sharing policies should take incentives into account.

Data sharing has the potential to facilitate wider collaboration and foster scientific progress. But while 88% of researchers in a recent study confirmed they would like to use shared data, only 13% had actually made their own data publicly available. Benedikt Fecher, Sascha Friesike, Marcel Hebing, Stephanie Linek, and Armin Sauermann look at the mismatch between ideal and reality and argue that academia is a reputation […]

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    Self-archived articles receive higher citation counts than non-OA articles from same political science journals.

Self-archived articles receive higher citation counts than non-OA articles from same political science journals.

The low level of research funding for the social sciences in the US is likely to have a direct and negative effect on researchers’ ability to pay the article processing charges associated with the most common Gold OA business model. But there are other options. Amy Atchison and Jonathan Bull look at the benefits of Green Open Access. Their research indicates self-archived/ Green […]

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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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Unravelling the true cost of publishing in open access

Universities must continue to monitor and track the variety of associated spending related to journal publishing and access, argues Lorraine Estelle. Many universities are forecasting that their APCs will more than double in number by 2018. Much of the difficulty in assessing the costs arises from the fact that the market is not transparent. Furthermore, the price of the APC is just one part of the […]

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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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    UK Science and Innovation Strategy – Lots of enthusiasm for science but surprisingly little new content.

UK Science and Innovation Strategy – Lots of enthusiasm for science but surprisingly little new content.

The UK government’s Science and Innovation Strategy released earlier this week fails to recognise the challenges facing UK research sustainability. Athene Donald considers the enthusiastic spin in light of wider funding issues. Surprisingly, a new review of the research councils is suggested. More effective cross-council working is certainly needed, but an overhaul or further consolidation could do more harm than good.

There has […]

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