For many years, academia has relied on citation count as the main way to measure the impact or importance of research, informing metrics such as the Impact Factor and the h-index. But how well do these metrics actually align with researchers’ subjective evaluation of impact and significance? Rachel Borchardt and Matthew R. Hartings report on a study that compares […]
Given how sociological concepts, theories, and perspectives can be applied to many of the relatively smaller problems of everyday life, such as improving urban spaces or enhancing work and productivity, it’s odd that the majority of sociology done in the UK remains behind closed doors, in lecture rooms, academic libraries, and conference halls. Nick Fox explains how a group […]
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 […]
Studies have shown that while many factors affect decision-makers’ use of research, evidence of what particular engagement actions actually work is very limited. Indeed, increasing access to research appears to be the only intervention to reliably increase use. The Conversation is a free-to-access research communication platform designed to be accessible to general audiences. Pauline Zardo reports on The Conversation […]
It’s not enough for research to be useful to policy actors, we must try to actually influence change
There is no doubt that good communications and framing research and evidence for your audience is important to influencing policy and having research impact. But shouldn’t we be aiming higher than producing and packaging research that simply meets the demands of policy actors? Surely what we actually want to do is influence change, not reinforce social and political norms? […]
Now a fixture of the higher education landscape, the “impact agenda” is partly fuelled by a cost-benefit framework that encourages universities to focus on demonstrating the economic value of their interventions. As a consequence, a clear pattern emerges with the government as the main beneficiary of impact, not wider society. Tina Basi and Mona Sloane argue that REF 2021 […]
Academics today have to publish to succeed. In Publish or Perish: Perceived Benefits versus Unintended Consequences, Imad A. Moosa assesses the disastrous consequences of this view for academics, both personally and academically. Review by James Hartley.
This review originally appeared on LSE Review of Books and is published under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 UK license.
Publish or Perish: Perceived Benefits Versus Unintended Consequences. Imad A. […]
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 […]
As the value of research with impact increases, so too does the importance of first gaining access to policymakers and other persons of influence. One shortcut to doing this is through increased media coverage. Leigh Marshall explains how academics can give their research the best possible chance of being seen and read by policymakers; including by developing close relationships […]
A lack of access and poor communication are often cited as reasons why academic research is not widely used by policymakers. But what about the challenges for researchers engaging with decision-makers such as parliaments? Lindsay Walker, Lindsey Pike, Marsha Wood and Hannah Durrant have surveyed more than 400 research professionals and identified some clear barriers, with heavy workloads and […]
For research precisely designed to inform policy and practice, ensuring it has the desired impact is crucial. But tracking impact across many countries and diverse contexts can be difficult. Sonia Livingstone and Mariya Stoilova describe how the Global Kids Online project has built an impact toolkit which draws on recent empirical research with over 12,000 children. The ambition is […]
Over the last couple of decades there has been an international push around the assessment of the wider societal impact of research. Kate Williams and Jonathan Grant document the evolution of research impact assessment in the UK and Australia, and how policies in the two countries have been seemingly interdependent, a back-and-forth process developed through international learning. Continued political […]
The increased significance of research assessments and their implications for funding and career prospects has had a knock-on effect on academic publication patterns. Moqi Groen-Xu, Pedro A. Teixeira, Thomas Voigt and Bernhard Knapp report on research that reveals a marked increase in research productivity immediately prior to an evaluation deadline, which quickly reverses once the deadline has passed. Moreoever, […]
Research assessment exercises provide the government and wider public with assurance of the quality of university research, with the guiding principles being accountability, transparency, and openness. But is there the same accountability and openness when it comes to the public cost of these large-scale exercises? Ksenia Sawczak examines the situation in Australia as the research sector looks ahead to […]
One-way, mutually constitutive, or two autonomous spheres: what is the relationship between research and policy?
Academics are increasingly exhorted to ensure their research has policy “impact”. But is this ambition predicated on an overly simplistic understanding of the policy process? Christina Boswell and Katherine Smith set out four different approaches to theorising the relationship between knowledge and policy and consider what each of these suggests about approaches to incentivising and measuring research impact.
Political scientists […]
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 […]
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’ […]
What constitutes scholarly impact? And which stakeholders have importance for research? Usha Haley shares findings of a recent Academy of Management report that sought answers to these questions by surveying its 20,000 members and conducting a selection of in-depth interviews with prominent figures. A majority of respondents indicated journal rankings did not reflect scholarly impact, yet publications in top-tier […]
Transdisciplinary PhD programmes produce more high-impact publications and foster increased collaborations
Traditional doctoral programmes require students to gain in-depth knowledge in one subject area. Transdisciplinary programmes aim to foster synthesis across disciplines and focus on translating research findings into real-world solutions, helping students to develop a professional disciplinary identity that is enhanced by multidisciplinary methods and theories. Anna-Sigrid Keck, Stephanie Sloane, Janet M. Liechty, Barbara H. Fiese, and Sharon M. […]