Research Evaluation - Whose Impact is it Anyway?
The Society of Biology and the British Library are collaborating to host a 'TalkScience' event on 19th June. The event will be a Chaired panel discussion bringing together researchers, funders, and policymakers to debate the measurement and use of 'impact' in assessment of scientific research.
From 2015 onwards, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) will fund research based on the outcomes of the new Research Excellence Framework (REF). The REF will be a UK-wide assessment exercise of the quality, impact and environment of research. One of the key differences between the existing Research Assessment Exercise and the new REF will be the inclusion of the ‘impact’ of scientific research as an element for evaluation. This new measure of ‘impact’ has been controversial in the scientific community and has sparked much debate.
Impact is broadly defined by HEFCE as “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia”. The TalkScience event will attempt to address some of the most pressing issues surrounding the impact agenda, namely how impact will be measured, and what effects the ‘impact agenda’ will have on researchers and institutions.
The evening’s discussion will be structured around five questions:
• What do we mean by research impact and can we ever truly measure it?
• Is all impact equal? How are different forms assessed and weighted?
• How does impact fit into the policy and research agendas within the UK?
• Is measuring impact about societal benefits, or solely economic return on public investment?
The event will bring together a panel of high profile individuals with a range of perspectives from funders, researchers and policy makers. The panel will lead a discussion with the audience on issues surrounding the impact agenda. The members of the panel will be:
• William Cullerne Bown (Founder and Publisher of Research Fortnight) - Chair
• Professor Douglas Kell (Chief Executive of the BBSRC)
• Dr Chris Hale (Deputy Director of Policy at Universities UK)
• Professor Nick Tyler CBE (Head of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, UCL)
• Professor Geraint Rees (Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL)