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Those troubling parentheses

Of course ‘impact’ is with us until the next REF (2014), and I would not advocate any attempt to ignore or avoid it. Departments and Universities will rightly construct the best cases they can for the impact of their research, and they must in order to compete for funding. The problem will then be that HEFCE can declare, as a result, what a great success the introduction of impact has been, since now we can really see the benefits of funding research. Therefore they will naturally wish to extend the ‘experiment’. Whatever we are asked to do to secure funding, we surely will do, and HEFCE can then as surely declare it a success. Here is the official announcement on the relative weightings that will be given to the assessment of research submission:

The relative weightings of research outputs, impact and the research environment … affect how much each element will contribute to the overall quality profile that will be awarded to each submission made by higher education institutions (HEIs) to the REF. They will be as follows:

  • research outputs – 65 per cent
  • impact – 20 per cent (this will increase in subsequent REFs)
  • environment – 15 per cent.

What is worrying here are those parentheses stating “this will increase in subsequent REFs”. A clear indication that the success has already been predicted and therefore impact will become more of a central theme? Or a clear indication that HEFCE knows whatever they ask for will inevitably be a success as we compete for funding?

 

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