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Beyond academia – interrogating research impact in the Research Excellence Framework

Terama, E; Smallman, M; Lock, S; Johnson, C; Austwick, MRZ; (2016) Beyond academia – interrogating research impact in the Research Excellence Framework. PLOS One , 11 (12) , Article e0168533. 10.1371/journal.pone.0172817. Green open access

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Abstract

Big changes to the way in which research funding is allocated to UK universities were brought about in the Research Excellence Framework (REF), overseen by the Higher Education Funding Council, England. Replacing the earlier Research Assessment Exercise, the purpose of the REF was to assess the quality and reach of research in UK universities – and allocate funding accordingly. For the first time, this included an assessment of research ‘impact’, accounting for 20% of the funding allocation. In this article we use a text mining technique to investigate the interpretations of impact put forward via impact case studies in the REF process. We find that institutions have developed a diverse interpretation of impact, ranging from commercial applications to public and cultural engagement activities. These interpretations of impact vary from discipline to discipline and between institutions, with more broad-based institutions depicting a greater variety of impacts. Comparing the interpretations with the score given by REF, we found no evidence of one particular interpretation being more highly rewarded than another. Importantly, we also found a positive correlation between impact score and [overall research] quality score, suggesting that impact is not being achieved at the expense of research excellence.

Type: Article
Title: Beyond academia – interrogating research impact in the Research Excellence Framework
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172817
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0172817
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 Terämä et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: assessment, impact, non-academic, REF, text mining, UCL, HEFCE, Research Excellence
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1530834
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