A packed Senate Chamber debated two different perspectives on Impact on Thursday. Prof Peter Taylor-Gooby gave a 'forensic' analysis of the Impact proposals contained in the Ref, and highlighted the uncertainty that still hung over them. Dr Steven Hill gave the view from RCUK, the political impetus for the policy, and the current thinking on how individual Research Councils dealt with Impact.
Both talks - whether intentionally or not - demonstrated that the assessment of Impact was still evolving, and all players were still feeling their way. For the Ref, there was the question of creating consistency, particularly given the introduction of 'users' to the panels, and the relatively tight timeframe Hefce had for benchmarking. For RCUK, there were mixed messages coming out of Polaris House: on the one hand Impact was considered to be very important; on the other it was only a secondary criterion in the assessment process. Elsewhere they appear to encourage global Impact, although their government paymasters might wish to prioritise UK Impact.
Notes from the Impact Seminar will be posted on the Research Services website shortly, or contact me for an electronic copy.