Evidence Base for Impact of Research and Innovation in the U.K.: New Approaches

Friday, February 15, 2013
Room 208 (Hynes Convention Center)
Alison Allden , Higher Education Statistics Agency, Cheltenham, United Kingdom
UK research undertaken by higher education institutions and research institutes can be funded by the government, charities or commercial organisations - the outcomes of that research therefore may be reported and monitored in different ways, depending on who has commissioned or paid for the activity. However, there are in place specific national mechanisms which aim to collect comprehensive and consistent evidence for the measurement of performance and impact of the research activity undertaken by publically funded universities. An increasing focus on demonstrating the economic and social impact of research and the approaches adopted will be explored in this talk. For example the assessment of research impact has now formally been included within the 2014 national Research Evaluation Framework (REF) run through the Higher Education Funding Councils in the UK. The reaction of the researchers themselves to the inclusion of impact was interesting and they expressed their concerns through a petition to the office of the Prime Minister and published articles arguing against the proposed emphasis on impact within the REF. The results of the REF will inform a major stream of public research funding for the following four years and therefore is of critical importance to the UK higher education research community. I will also explore the extent to which research impact is a specific feature of the national Research Councils’ UK grant application and reporting requirements, including a recently developed online information service to capture impact. The government has called for a new comprehensive public information resource about research and this is currently under construction through the Research Councils UK (RCUK) as a mechanism for discovering and providing evidence of research and impact. In addition there is an established survey to collect data about Higher Education Business and Community Interaction (HEBCI) across all universities, undertaken by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. The results demonstrate the way in which collaborations in research and innovation create further opportunities for economic and social impact. The presentation will provide a UK review of these emerging approaches to the UK evidence base for economic and social impact within the international context of the seminar.