The seminar Assessing impact was held to start a conversation about the use of ‘impact’ as a measurement of quality for research in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Sweden. Two UK academics shared their reflections on the term’s use in recent research evaluations. The hope was to provoke a discussion about how the term can (or should?) be used. Our wonderful audience represented academics, funders and policy and provided interesting discussions.

Ericka Johnson, Sanja Bogojevic

Members Ericka Johnson and Sanja Bogojević initiated the seminar. Photo: Anna Kjellström

Erica Haimes lecture

Erica Haimes lecture. Photo: Anna Kjellström

Keynotes Liz Fisher, Professor of Environmental Law, Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, UK, and Erica Haimes, Professor and Executaive Director of the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre, Newcastle University, UK, shared their experiences.

Liz Fisher shared her thoughts on impact and the different ways to approach the term, inside academia in forms of peer review or impact factor, or outside academia in terms of the impact research has in society. She presented the recent framework for research evaluation that has been formed in the UK, the Research Excellence Framework 2014 called “Ref14” or REF. The REF is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Case studies have been submitted to the REF: The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), on behalf of a steering group representing the UK Funding Bodies, Research Councils and the Wellcome Trust, commissioned Digital Science, working in conjunction with the Policy Institute and Digital Humanities at King’s College London, as well as Nature Publishing Group, to analyse the impact case studies submitted to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The case studies outline changes and benefits to the UK economy, society, culture, public policy and services, health, the environment and quality of life and impacts in these sectors beyond the UK.

See a short talk with Liz Fisher and Ericka Johnson.

Erica Haimes presented the work of the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) Research Centre at Newcastle University, where she is the Executive Director. At PEALS “the primary aim is to produce world class research focused on the social and ethical debates around the contemporary life sciences.” PEALS has become internationally known for innovative research that draws on both research activities, as well as on the expertise of academic and community-based partners. PEALS puts a big effort in impact and engagement, they work to inform and improve professional practice, public policy and decision-making across the life sciences. Haimes explained that it was part of the plan for PEALS from the beginning and that it has proven to be a good investment in PEALS area of research. Being able to measure impact is a way of assessing the quality of work the universities produce. To work with engagement and impact is now seen as legitimate part of academics work and there is separate funding for it, Haimes said.

See a short talk with Ericka Haimes and Sanja Bogojević.

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Erica Haimes lecture