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UK: Universities brace for heavier research burden

An article from the University World News (6 March 2011):

Most controversial is the proposal to judge the quality of research based on its impact outside of academic circles. Under new rules announced on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), university departments will have to provide case studies proving the impact of their work beyond their institution. This might include public outreach or details of how a particular piece of work is helping the wider community, for example through medical science.

This piece is in fact a link back to the Guardian article of March 1st.

Categories: newspapers
  1. William Tooman
    March 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm


    I am just now learning about “impact” as we gear up for the REF, and thought you might have answers to a few of my questions:

    1. Do you know if there has been any effort to include teaching as part of the “impact” formula? That is the primary vehicle by which most of us render our arcane research interests into transferrable skills for the mythical ‘everyman.’

    2. Is there any consideration of the sequencing of skills/research? For example, textual-criticism doesn’t often have immediate imact on the public, but it is a necessary precursor to research activities and publications that do, eventually, reach the public. Is there any mechanism to argue that one’s research can/should *eventually* lead to impact even if it does not do so immediately?

  2. March 6, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Dear Bill,

    I am no expert on this, but just trying to keep it a live debate. A precise definition of impact has not been given, but it excludes teaching or anything that is not quantifiable. Examples that have been published only relate to direct impact, and one that can be measured in terms of audience numbers, countable ‘users’ and so on. In other words, not what some of the best research does, which is filtered through peer review and long-term discussion.

    I have seen young scholars such as yourself begin to include a section on Impact in their CVs. But until we really know what it is, it is difficult to do. Some examples people have given do not seem to match the criteria.


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