Impact Workshop (7): Constructing Research Impact: Insights from the UK's REF 2014
Impact strategy and impact cases studies were introduced for the first time in the UK’s 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). Impact constituted 20% of the overall quality assessment. The articulation and evidencing of impact was a new and significant challenge for universities in the preparation of their REF submissions. Prof. Martin Sexton was the University of Reading lead for Unit of Assessment (UoA) 16 - Architecture, Built Environment, and Planning. In this role he coordinated the joint submission of two separate Schools, namely the School of Construction Management and Engineering and the School of Real Estate and Planning. 70% of the University of Reading’s UoA 16's submissions was scored 4* and 30% scored 3*, and was ranked 3rd (out of 46) in the UK for research impact. At the impact workshop Prof. Sexton will discuss his experiences (and frustrations!) of the development of the impact strategy and cases in a multi-disciplinary environment; reflect on the effect of impact on the REF outcomes; and speculate on where the impact agenda is going for the anticipated REF 2020. He will also raise some issues that were not evidently clear in the 2014 REF and that might, therefore, be amended if adopted in the next Hong Kong exercise.
Background on the Workshops:
Impact is a key element of the University's knowledge exchange (KE) strategy. Since 2012/13, the University Grants Committee (UGC) requires each UGC-funded institution to submit up to 5 impact case studies that are underpinned by excellent research as part of the knowledge transfer/KE annual report each year. The format is similar to the impact case study template of the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.
It is also important to note that in the Panel-Specific Assessment Criteria for the UGC RAE 2014, all the Panels included under the "Esteem" measure some elements relating to KE/technology transfer. This suggests that the next Hong Kong RAE will likely require evidence of impact and the UK experience indicates that now is the time to start collecting evidence of such impacts.
The Knowledge Exchange Office is organising workshops to be conducted by researchers who have hands-on experience in preparing impact statements and impact case studies for the UK REF 2014 or research councils overseas. The workshops will be of interest not only to colleagues who want to maximise the impact of their research, but also to those who co-ordinate research developments and research assessment in Faculties.