Stephen Curry writes on the LSE Impact Blog that the growth of academic blogging is an important new outlet for demonstrating impact.
“Faced with the imminent arrival of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the new system being put in place to measure the quality of the research funded from the public purse and which now incorporates assessments of impact, we academics need to get our heads around what impact assessment means.
“It makes great, good sense. It is entirely reasonable that the research community should give a fair account of the use it makes of the money provided, through government, by our fellow citizens. Scientists and engineers readily reach for the argument that investment in these areas underpins the economic well-being of UK PLC and it is our responsibility to gather the data to support and sustain that case.
“But the scientific community — in its broadest sense — has expressed uneasiness at this prospect, fearing that a focus on economic impact would skew funding to more targeted, applied areas of research and starve the curiosity-driven work believed by many to be the seed corn of the technological harvests that have transformed our society. The research councils have attempted to address these fears and now clearly embrace a much broader definition of impact — one that includes “increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy and enhancing the quality of life, health and creative output” (to quote the BBSRC – pdf)…”