From your career to the REF and back again
With the institutional mock-REF exercise underway, and submission to REF2021 looming in the not so distant future, it’s a busy period for BU’s Impact Champions, Officers and PDRAs. Ensuring each Unit of Assessment’s most promising impact case studies are identified and developed right up until Research England’s cut-off of 31st July 2020 is the most important duty of BU’s Impact Sub-Committee.
Clearly, impact development is critical across BU for our success in the REF and subsequent quality-related (QR) income. In REF2014, the return for a 4* case study was ~£46k – a fact that can be boasted by contributing authors in their applications for career progression. Yet many academics are reluctant to spend time on impact-related activities, primarily because they feel the time that they invest would be better spent elsewhere. I’d like to contest this viewpoint for three key reasons:
- Research impact is important to BU and is here to stay: It is heavily featured in BU2025 and the revised definition of Fusion. The Impact Sub-Committee is working to bring about the culture change that is required for impact to be embraced across the institution, and to bring about appropriate recognition for academics with impactful research.
- A track record of societal impact can increase your chances of grant success: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI, formerly RCUK) bids require impact plans, and those who have previously engaged with society are more likely to be rewarded.
- Engaging with society, charities and industry provides an opportunity for academics to get out of the office and have a positive influence on the real-world. For some this will have the additional bonus of financial investment and return from those they engage with – many matched-funded PhD studentships result from these relationships.
So how do you get involved in research impact? One of the hardest jobs of the UoA impact teams is to identify potential case studies – if you are already involved in impactful research, let your Impact Champion or Officer know. If you have an idea for future impact, also let them know. Impact development does not need to drain your time, particularly if you seek out the support that is on offer, and work in collaborative teams. This last point is important – developing the best impact case studies will benefit the whole institution in terms of REF return, and the responsibility shouldn’t fall on a few individuals. On the contrary, because research impact has increasing relevance to an individual’s internal and external career progression, there has been no better time to contribute to BU’s REF impact preparations.
By Professor Sarah Bate, Chair of the BU Impact Sub-Committee
Want to know more?
For more information about how impact will be assessed in REF2021, see Part 3, Section 3 of the REF Guidance on Submissions and Part 3, Section 4 and Annex A of the REF Panel Criteria and Working Methods.
Also, have a look our other BU REF Week blog posts.