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    Perceptions and ‘impacts’ of the REF: Key aim for next round should be to explore apprehension and minimise anxieties.

Perceptions and ‘impacts’ of the REF: Key aim for next round should be to explore apprehension and minimise anxieties.

Discussions around the REF have tended to be negative, but academics appear to have experienced the framework in a number of different ways. To understand the variety of themes and important issues, Tony Murphy and Daniel Sage undertook a media analysis that points to the range of concerns academics have around the REF and its processes. They argue there is much […]

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    Overhyped and concentrated investments in research funding are leading to unsustainable science bubbles.

Overhyped and concentrated investments in research funding are leading to unsustainable science bubbles.

David Budtz Pedersen examines how the scientific market exhibits bubble behaviour similar to that of financial markets. Taking as an example the overwhelming investments in neuroscience, such high expectations may actually drain the research system from resources and new ideas. In the end the permanent competition for funding and the lack of ‘risk diversification’, might generate a climate in which citizens and […]

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    How competitive should science be? External reward structure may inhibit creative thinking and innovation.

How competitive should science be? External reward structure may inhibit creative thinking and innovation.

Competition for funding and jobs is often cited as a helpful mechanism for spurning innovation and productivity in science. But Jessica Polka challenges this idea by drawing from the results of an experiment known as Duncker’s candle problem. The experiment revealed external rewards can actually inhibit creative thinking. If science is like the version of the candle problem, are […]

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    Performance funding policies in higher education have had little effect on student outcomes.

Performance funding policies in higher education have had little effect on student outcomes.

In a study of over 500 four year post-secondary institutions in all fifty US states from 1993-2010, Amanda Rutherford and Thomas Rabovsky find that current performance funding policies are not associated with higher levels of student performance and that these policies may in fact contribute to lower performance over a longer period of time. However, more recent policies linked to institutional base funding may produce […]

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    The role of the Research Funding Officer in building robust and dynamic foundations for impact.

The role of the Research Funding Officer in building robust and dynamic foundations for impact.

The Research Funding Officer role is increasingly fundamental to impact, growing in importance as bidding becomes more competitive and the impact stakes get higher. Casper Hitchins and Julie Bayley argue that the dramatic elevation of impact in funding applications demands more insightful planning. Focus at the funding application stage not only generates more competitive bids, but also secures resources for […]

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    The rejection of metrics for the REF does not take account of existing problems of determining research quality.

The rejection of metrics for the REF does not take account of existing problems of determining research quality.

Amidst heavy scepticism over the role of metrics in research assessments, Martin Smith wonders whether the flaws of the current system have been fully recognised. There is no system of research assessment that is perfect and peer review may well be a better, although problematic, measure of quality than metrics. But the REF has become disproportionate. The question that arises […]

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    Maximising the value of research data: developing incentives and changing cultures

Maximising the value of research data: developing incentives and changing cultures

The value of sharing research data is widely recognised by the research community and funders are setting in place stronger policy requirements for researchers to share data. But the costs to researchers in sharing their data can be considerable and the incentives are sometimes few and far between. A recent report from the cross-disciplinary Expert Advisory Group on Data […]

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    Performance-based research assessment is narrowing and impoverishing the university in New Zealand, UK and Denmark.

Performance-based research assessment is narrowing and impoverishing the university in New Zealand, UK and Denmark.

Susan Wright, Bruce Curtis, Lisa Lucas and Susan Robertson provide a basic outline of their working paper on how performance-based research assessment frameworks in different countries operate and govern academic life. They find that assessment methods steer academic effort away from wider purposes of the university, enhance the powers of leaders, propagate unsubstantiated myths of meritocracy, and demand conformity. But the latest […]

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    The FIRST Act’s demand for relevance at the expense of replication puts the entire scientific enterprise at risk.

The FIRST Act’s demand for relevance at the expense of replication puts the entire scientific enterprise at risk.

The United States’ controversial FIRST Act would have profound  implications for how social science research is managed and its funding allocated. David Takeuchi argues that even if the act doesn’t pass, it is clear that politicians are demanding more of a say in federally funded research. While a push to ensure research remains relevant can be a good thing, scientists and […]

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    Evidence-based service delivery and development requires full range of interactions and connections with research.

Evidence-based service delivery and development requires full range of interactions and connections with research.

To help expand understanding of how research makes an impact Sarah Morton draws from her extensive research into how different types of evidence are used to develop and improve key services. Research might raise awareness of an issue, change people’s knowledge or understanding of an issue, challenge attitudes, perceptions or ideas. Research use doesn’t just mean an instrumental application of […]

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    Surely there’s more to science than money? Economic determinism fails to capture science’s practical social benefit.

Surely there’s more to science than money? Economic determinism fails to capture science’s practical social benefit.

The benefits of the scientific enterprise can be difficult to pin-point directly. Rather than grapple with the complexity, many prefer to emphasise how science spending will lead to economic growth. Richard Jones looks back at motivations for science funding historically and finds that pure economic determinism so popular today is far from the only option. National defence and cultural value […]

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    In Morocco and abroad, universities are more than just a financial investment, they can instil collective belonging.

In Morocco and abroad, universities are more than just a financial investment, they can instil collective belonging.

In Morocco, high unemployment rates among university graduates, the expansion of private vocational schools, and weak political support for public universities have all affected the university’s role in shaping the wider collective good. Shana Cohen outlines how the current policy situation is limiting the nature of academic impact in Morocco. The more complex, but perhaps more important, issue for […]

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    Understanding the value and impact of digital assets in research centres requires consistent methods.

Understanding the value and impact of digital assets in research centres requires consistent methods.

A report looking into the value and impact of data sharing and curation in research data centres found that the value of the access that users have to the data is more than double the sum of money invested in the centres. Neil Grindley finds that this is obviously useful and good news for the data centres, but it is […]

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    Geographies of knowledge: practical ways to boost the visibility of research undertaken and published in the South.

Geographies of knowledge: practical ways to boost the visibility of research undertaken and published in the South.

Jonathan Harle and Sioux Cumming discuss how to strengthen research networks in developing countries. There is still a huge body of Southern research which simply never gets counted. Research that is undertaken and published in the South needs to be valued, and this will only happen when Southern universities value it in their reward and promotion systems and when research funders recognise […]

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    University rankings wield immense influence over Higher Ed and society at large – with positive and perverse effects.

University rankings wield immense influence over Higher Ed and society at large – with positive and perverse effects.

In a time of growing demand for and on higher education, university rankings have transformed university strategy. Ellen Hazelkorn finds their crude simplicity is what makes rankings so infectious. Yet, quality is a complex concept. Most of the indicators used are effectively measures of socio-economic advantage, and privilege the most resource-intensive institutions and-or countries. In response and reaction to the limited […]

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    Research assessment, altmetrics and tools for determining impact: Reading list for #HEFCEmetrics review launch.

Research assessment, altmetrics and tools for determining impact: Reading list for #HEFCEmetrics review launch.

HEFCE have announced they are arranging an independent review of the role of metrics in research assessment and management. The Impact blog welcomes this review and will look to encourage wider discussion and debate on how research is currently assessed and how it could be in years to come. Over the last two years we’ve featured a number of […]

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    From STEM to STEAM: The potential for arts to facilitate innovation, literacy and participatory democracy.

From STEM to STEAM: The potential for arts to facilitate innovation, literacy and participatory democracy.

The value of the arts goes far beyond its monetary returns. Malaika Cunningham outlines how the arts play a huge role in boosting proficiency within STEM subjects. Creative thinking is needed for truly excellent scientists, engineers and mathematicians, and how better to foster this than a rounded education, which includes arts subjects? Arts education fosters a literate and innovative workforce and strengthens the […]

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