Thursday, 29 October 2009

Academics Welcome Impact Shock!

A group of around 50 academics have given a surprise endorsement to the REF Impact plans. At a HEFCE Consultation event on the REF proposals in London yesterday feedback from the 'breakout' groups suggested that academics now accept the need to justify the impact of their research to the government. David Sweeney, who opened the event, highlighted the massive increase in QR funding since 2002/03, up some 41%.
Whilst academic freedom was ‘a gift’, one that should be nurtured and cherished, and institutional autonomy was important, universities ‘shouldn’t be monasteries.’
He went on to explain that HEFCE was now fully behind peer review, a claim that couldn’t have been made a few years ago, and the battle they had had in establishing this should not be taken for granted.
HEFCE was aware of the ‘challenges to assessment’, but he believed that many of these would ‘meltaway’ when faced by ‘very bright people’ tackling them. He emphasised that the REF was not about quantifying impact, focussing on economic impact, assessing impact of every researcher or output,trying to predict future impact, discouraging curiosity-driven research, or trading off impact against excellence. 'High impact that results from poor research is not a feature of this exercise,’ he said.

Full notes on the event are available if you contact me.

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