The six seminars in the series 'Impact and Knowledge Exchange in an Evolving Research Environment' provided an opportunity for dialogue around new directions in Knowledge Exchange and impact policy, governance, and practice, involving key stakeholder groups. The series is an output of a seminar series held at the University of Oxford in the summer term 2015, convened by Prof Roger Goodman, Head of the Social Sciences Division and Prof Alis Oancea, Deputy Director of Research at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education
Impact and Knowledge Exchange in an Evolving Research Environment
A panel session reflecting on research impact and knowledge exchange from different angles, from user perspectives and wide public debates, through institutional contexts and the interfaces with different funding bodies, and to international experiences The aim of the panel session was to reflect on research impact and knowledge exchange from different angles, from user perspectives and wide public debates, through institutional contexts and the interfaces with different funding bodies, and to international experiences. The session drew to a close a seminar series that included contributions from academics, funding bodies, and research managers, nationally and internationally, in the social sciences and beyond. The series included discussion of metrics, as well as of narrative approaches to articulating impact; of the REF and institutional responses to it, as well as of individual academics' engagement with impact, and the challenges, benefits and dilemmas arising from it; of practical, as well as conceptual and critical, aspects of research impact. In this final session of the series, each panellist made a brief opening contribution, followed by 40 minutes of discussion with the audience.
Approaches to facilitating research impact
The talk will reflect on ways in which research can lead to impact and how this can be evidenced. The main focus will be on approaches and strategies for increasing impact with respect to the next REF. Whilst research has always had impact, research impact is still a relatively new concept in REF terms. The talk will reflect on ways in which research can lead to impact and how this can be evidenced. The main focus will be on approaches and strategies for increasing impact with respect to the next REF. Ideally preparations should begin before the research starts but there are also activities that can be added on during and after the research which can increase the potential for impact.
Competing for excellence: Perverse and constructive effects of evaluation machines in academia
Professor Paul Wouters discusses the current tensions in the way researchers are being evaluated and assessed and introduces the concept of "evaluation machines" to understand the dynamics behind disconnected assessment practices.
What was I thinking?! - being an academic in the age of impact
Reflecting on experience as academic lead for the Warwick Commission for the Future of Cultural Value, Dr Eleonora Belfiore explores the possibilities and challenges that developing a collaborative approach to generating fresh policy thinking entails. The context for this talk is offered by one of the defining debates in cultural policy studies, namely the one around the tension between a desire to be useful to those who administer the arts and culture and the aspiration to preserve the cultural policy scholar's critical distance from the object of analysis, intellectual autonomy and the freedom to critique. Whilst this tension is especially noticeable within a small and emerging field such as cultural policy research, it is not by any means only found there. Taking developments in the UK as the geographical focus of analysis, it is clear that increasing expectations that research, especially when publicly funded, should have 'impact' bring with them similar kind of tensions. Expectation that research ought to deliver 'impact', which is often understood as a contribution to policy development, have been hotly contested and resisted, yet an important set of questions still remain open:
- What is the ultimate purpose of critical cultural policy research? Or in other words, what comes after critique?
- Is critique for critique's sake a satisfactory goal for cultural policy analysis or can we envisage a constructive engagement between critical research and policy debates that is not subservient to the needs of policy advocacy?
Understanding research impact: analysis of the REF impact case studies
Delivering impact from research has become a central feature of the research policy landscape in the UK and beyond, in this seminar Dr Stephen Hill considers what is meant by ‘research impact’ and examines recent impact case studies.
In metrics we trust? Impact, indicators & the prospects for social science over the next five years
James Wilsdon talks about the role of metrics in researcg assessment and the opportunities & dilemmas for the social sciences & humanities. Citations, journal impact factors, H-indices, even tweets and Facebook likes – there are no end of quantitative measures that can now be used to assess the quality and wider impacts of research. But how robust and reliable are such indicators, and what weight – if any – should we give them in the management of the UK's research system? Over the past year, the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management has looked in detail at these questions. The review has explored the use of metrics across the full range of academic disciplines, and assessed their potential contribution to processes of research assessment like the REF. It has looked at how universities themselves use metrics, at the rise of league tables and rankings, at the relationship between metrics and issues of equality and diversity, and at the potential for 'gaming' that can arise from the use of particular indicators in the funding system. The review's final report, The Metric Tide, will be published on 9 July. In advance of this, James Wilsdon will use this talk to preview its findings, with a particular focus on opportunities & dilemmas for the social sciences & humanities. The second part of his talk will look at the broader post-election prospects for social science funding & influence within government, building on the Campaign for Social Science's recent report 'The Business of People'.