Managing secrets in higher education

In this re-post, Morten Hansen uses secrecy as a prism to deconstruct dynamics and processes in higher education. The reflections spring from various research projects on topics ranging from the Freedom of Information Act 2000, public-private partnerships, and new education markets. The post begins with experiences that Morten has had interviewing senior decision makers in the higher education sector as part […]

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    Scientist Led or Mission Oriented – How much does it cost research funders to lead science?

Scientist Led or Mission Oriented – How much does it cost research funders to lead science?

Across national research systems, decisions about what research is funded are influenced by both researchers themselves, and policymakers with national priorities. However, beyond short term change in response to grants, it is unclear how the latter mission oriented form of research funding affects research practices over the long term. In this post Kyle Myers, shows that the funding needed […]

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    Manufacturing Collaboration – Can you teach researchers how to achieve impact?

Manufacturing Collaboration – Can you teach researchers how to achieve impact?

As part of the impact agenda and the increased focus on realising social and economic returns on research investment, universities have increasingly sought to promote and train academics to carry out research collaborations across disciplines and with non-academic partners. Whilst this kind of research can be impactful, Helen B Woods argues that attempts to direct research in this way […]

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Why are Asian Academic Regulatory Bodies wary of blogging?

Blogs and blogging are an important medium for communication. In the Anglophone world they have taken on a particular significance within the academic community as a medium for discussing cross cutting issues that affect the universities sector. In this post Santosh C. Hulagabali argues that in Asia and India in particular, the dearth of institutional blogs has limited public […]

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    Lessons from the past – Why our current understanding of UK research policy is wrong

Lessons from the past – Why our current understanding of UK research policy is wrong

As a result of Brexit, research policy in the UK is being asked to perform an increasingly large array of functions and will likely undergo significant changes. In this post David Edgerton draws on the findings of a recent British Academy report on the history of UK research policy to highlight how research policy in the UK is frequently […]

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    Reflections on academic fundraising: the art of getting there

Reflections on academic fundraising: the art of getting there

Fundraising, or grant capture, has become an increasingly established part of a career in the social sciences. Whereas, in the UK this process has become institutionalized, in other research systems grant capture remains less central. In this post Abel Polese reflects on his own experiences of academic fundraising and argues that for researchers seeking research funding, failure is relative […]

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    To achieve a truly ‘Global Britain’ we need to take international research policy partnerships seriously

To achieve a truly ‘Global Britain’ we need to take international research policy partnerships seriously

The relationship between the UK’s research endeavour and its international partners is likely to change in coming years as a result of changes in domestic funding streams and a potentially sharp exit from EU funded research projects. In this post James Georgalakis argues that if the UK is seeking to be truly ‘Global’ in terms of research, there is […]

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    AmeliCA before Plan S – The Latin American Initiative to develop a cooperative, non-commercial, academic led, system of scholarly communication

AmeliCA before Plan S – The Latin American Initiative to develop a cooperative, non-commercial, academic led, system of scholarly communication

Open access is often discussed as a process of flipping the existing closed subscription based model of scholarly communication to an open one. However, in Latin America an open access ecosystem for scholarly publishing has been in place for over a decade. In this post, Eduardo Aguado-López and Arianna Becerril-Garcia discuss open access developments in Latin America and the AmeliCA initiative to develop […]

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    Book Review: Can Science Make Sense of Life? by Sheila Jasanoff

Book Review: Can Science Make Sense of Life? by Sheila Jasanoff

In Can Science Make Sense of Life?, Sheila Jasanoff questions whether the scientific capacity to manipulate life at the molecular level should also give science the authority to define what life is for. Exploring various cases to show how (techno)scientific knowledge embeds and is embedded in our social practices, identities, norms, institutions and ways of speaking, this book is a salient introduction […]

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    A call for funders to ban institutions that use grant capture targets

A call for funders to ban institutions that use grant capture targets

Grant capture, or the ability of researchers to secure funding for their projects, is often used as a formal metric for academic evaluation. In this repost, Dorothy Bishop argues that this practice has led to peverse incentives for researchers and institutions and that research funders have both a responsibility and a significant interest in using their influence to halt […]

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    Do no harm? – What development practice can teach us about negative impact

Do no harm? – What development practice can teach us about negative impact

As previous posts on the Impact Blog have highlighted, one aspect of the impact agenda that has until recently been relatively neglected has been that of negative impact, or ‘grimpact’. In this post Valeria Izzi and Becky Murray draw on examples from development practice and research to advance a more complex understanding of grimpact and argue that as development […]

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    Why social science can help us to better understand organisational change in healthcare

Why social science can help us to better understand organisational change in healthcare

Lorelei Jones, Alec Fraser, and Ellen Stewart write that while the literature of large‐scale healthcare reform is dominated by competing forms of knowledge, social science in particular can offer new insights.
Major changes to the way clinical services are organised keep happening, despite a lack of evidence that it improves anything. Health services research often excludes important dimensions, such as politics and emotions, in favour […]

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    Learned Societies, the key to realising an open access future?

Learned Societies, the key to realising an open access future?

Plan S, a funder led initiative to drive open access to research, will have significant impacts on the ways in which academics publish and communicate their research. However, beyond simply changing the way academics disseminate their research, it will also influence how learned societies, the organisations tasked with representing academics in particular disciplines, operate, as many currently depend […]

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    Peer review is not just quality control, it is part of the social infrastructure of research

Peer review is not just quality control, it is part of the social infrastructure of research

The purpose of peer review is often portrayed as being a simple ‘objective’ test of the soundness or quality of a research paper. However, it also performs other functions primarily through linking and developing relationships between networks of researchers. In this post, Flaminio Squazzoni explores these interconnections and argues that to understand peer review as simply an exercise in […]

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    The human element – why randomised control trials need mixed methods approaches

The human element – why randomised control trials need mixed methods approaches

The applicability of Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) to the social sciences has been widely questioned. However, assessing the effectiveness of RCTs, in practice has proved difficult. In this post, Naila Kabeer reflects on her recent research into randomised control trials utilised as part of a programme to alleviate poverty in West Bengal and highlights how, when RCTs are used […]

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    The changing imperative to demonstrate social science impact

The changing imperative to demonstrate social science impact

In less than a decade the impact agenda has evolved from being a controversial idea to an established part of most national research systems. Over the same period the conceptualisation of research impact in the social sciences and the ability to create and measure research impact through digital communication media has also developed significantly. In this post, Ziyad Marar […]

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    Grimpact – Time to acknowledge the dark side of the impact agenda

Grimpact – Time to acknowledge the dark side of the impact agenda

A critical blind spot in the impact agenda has been that impact is understood and defined solely in positive terms. In this post Gemma Derrick and Paul Benneworth introduce the concept of ‘Grimpact’, to describe instances where research negatively impacts society, and argue that the implicit optimism of research assessment has rendered researchers and science systems poorly equipped to […]

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