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Dr Matthew Boswell

Leeds-HKU Conference: Moving Beyond Research to Engagement and Impact

Speakers and Panelists

Dr Matthew Boswell

Dr Matthew Boswell
Arts Engaged Research Fellow, School of English, University of Leeds

Evaluating Impact in the Arts and Humanities


In this paper I consider the methodologies that researchers in the arts and humanities are using to evaluate the impact of their research and knowledge exchange activities. Moving from reflection on the requirements and outcomes of the recent UK-wide Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, I will consider how researchers are increasingly turning to digital technologies such as social media and film to document events and provide evidence of impact, using a recent high profile international conference on Transnational Holocaust Memory as a case study. This conference featured a number of public events that allowed academics to engage with a range of individuals and groups, from schoolchildren to Holocaust survivors, and I will highlight the complexities of evaluating responses from these groups and also some of the ethical issues that the researchers involved had to take into consideration, arising from factors such as demographics and the presentation of distressing subject matter. Finally, I will argue that rather than being seen as an 'add on' that comes after a particular event or project, evaluation is increasingly being viewed as an activity that takes place continuously throughout the research process, creating new forms of interaction with diverse audiences and organisations and informing research by providing fresh and often unexpected insights and perspectives.


Matthew Boswell is an Arts Engaged Fellow based in the School of English at the University of Leeds. He has worked with a wide range of partners, from Opera North to M&S, and his research in Holocaust studies involves working with Holocaust museums and educational organisations in the UK, Germany, South Africa and Australia.

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Presentation slides