The UK research system has historically been innovative in its approach to measuring and assessing the impacts of academic research. However, the recent development of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), has elicited scepticism as to how this framework will significantly differ from the impact element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). In this post Hamish McAlpine and Steven […]
Societal impact has become the hallmark of high quality research, as is reflected in the decision to make impact worth 25% of REF 2021 assessments and the introduction of Research Missions into the Horizon Europe framework. However, the ability to produce societal impacts is often linked to career stage and job stability. Reporting on a survey of Early Career […]
A vital part of any research assessment program is the ability to clearly demonstrate the impacts, whatever they may, of the research undertaken. In this post, Katy McEwan presents the impact chain approach for writing impact case studies. A method, which provides a framework for producing impact narratives and helps authors clearly describe and spotlight the consequences, intended and […]
In this repost, Dr Liz Morrish responds to the recent guidelines issued for REF 2021. Highlighting potential unintended consequences and bad incentives, she argues that the ability of higher education institutions to enter staff into the REF who have been made redundant or removed from their positions, may lead to fewer opportunities and greater exploitation of already precariously employed academics.
57 days […]
Mark Reed presents 6 key points from the REF2021 guidelines and outlines how they change the current working understanding of impact in the UK.
The final guidance for REF2021 was released this week. Most of the guidance on impact is consistent with what I expected from the consultation. For the full guidance on the submission of impact case studies to […]
Who are you writing for? The role of community membership on authors’ decisions to publish in open access mega-journals
Open Access mega-journals have in some academic disciplines become a key channel for communicating research. In others, however, they remain unknown. Drawing on evidence from a series of focus groups, Jenny Fry and Simon Wakeling explore how authors’ perceptions of mega-journals differ across disciplines and are shaped by motivations associated with the multiple communities they function within.
Open-access mega-journals […]
The concept of research impact pervades contemporary academic discourse – but what does it actually mean?
Research impact is often talked about, but how clear is it what this term really means? Kristel Alla, Wayne Hall, Harvey Whiteford, Brian Head and Carla Meurk find that academic literature discusses research impact but often without properly defining it, with academic discourses mostly drawing on bureaucratic definitions originating from the […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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’ […]
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 […]
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 […]