Developing and Assessing Impact for the REF
Last week BU hosted a HEFCE-supported event for universities in the south of England outlining recent changes in how the quality of research in higher education is assessed.
The event, attended by over 150 delegates from 39 institutions, outlined the new Research Excellence Framework (REF) which includes a new assessment element focusing on research impact.
As Chris Taylor, Deputy REF Manager for HEFCE, explained: “REF will provide accountability for public investment in research and demonstrate its benefits.” He continued:
“Impact is defined as any contribution the research makes outside of academia. It is the higher education sector’s opportunity to shout about what it contributes to society.”
Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby (University of Kent), Professor Roy Harrison (University of Birmingham), Professor James Goodwin (Age UK), Dr Kathryn Monk (Environment Agency Wales) and Dr Mari Williams (RCUK) presented their experiences of assessing impact case studies in the REF pilot exercise. Professor Jim Griffiths (University of Plymouth) presented his experience of identifying and submitting impact case studies to the pilot exercise in the hope that others would learn from his experience.
Prevalent themes emerging from the pilot included the importance of a demonstrable chain of evidence from impact claim through to outcome, high quality research underpinning the impact claim and fostering the crucial relationship between academic and user.
Professor James Goodwin explained how research can change society for people’s benefit, stessing the importance of “converting research into a message that will influence people’s thinking”. He gave the recent removal of the default retirement age as an example of how this can influence policy.
The event closed with a Q&A session with all speakers, giving delegates the chance to obtain further clarity on the REF that will undoubtedly change the future of higher education research.
Matthew Bennett (BU’s PVC for Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation) said: “There has been sector-wide concern about how impact will be defined, collated and assessed in the REF, and this event provided excellent advice and guidance for academic staff likely to be submitting to the REF and those leading the submissions.”
The deadline for submitting submissions is November 2013 and the assesment will be made in 2014.
We will be adding further posts to the Research Blog focusing on the good practice shared at the event (such as defining impact, what makes a strong impact case study, etc) over the next few weeks.