We need to talk about impact: why social policy academics need to engage with the UK's research impact agenda

Katherine E Smith, Ellen Stewart

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    21 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Of all the social sciences, social policy is one of the most obviously policy-orientated. One might, therefore, expect a research and funding agenda which prioritises and rewards policy relevance to garner an enthusiastic response among social policy scholars. Yet, the social policy response to the way in which major funders and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) are now prioritising ‘impact’ has been remarkably muted. Elsewhere in the social sciences, ‘research impact’ is being widely debated and a wealth of concerns about the way in which this agenda is being pursued are being articulated. Here, we argue there is an urgent need for social policy academics to join this debate. First, we employ interviews with academics involved in health inequalities research, undertaken between 2004-2015, to explore perceptions, and experiences, of the ‘impact agenda’ (an analysis which is informed by a review of guidelines for assessing ‘impact’ and relevant academic literature). Next, we analyse high and low scoring REF2014 impact case studies to assess whether these concerns appear justified. We conclude by outlining how social policy expertise might usefully contribute to efforts to encourage, measure and reward research ‘impact’.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages109-127
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Social Policy
    Volume46
    Issue number1
    Early online date16 May 2016
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2017

    Fingerprint

    impact research
    social policy
    reward
    social science
    expertise
    funding
    Social Policy
    interview
    health
    experience

    Keywords

    • social policy
    • research impact agenda
    • Research Excellence Framework
    • REF

    Cite this

    @article{4e4e3dcc8a014e2cb8510f54a4c059c3,
    title = "We need to talk about impact: why social policy academics need to engage with the UK's research impact agenda",
    abstract = "Of all the social sciences, social policy is one of the most obviously policy-orientated. One might, therefore, expect a research and funding agenda which prioritises and rewards policy relevance to garner an enthusiastic response among social policy scholars. Yet, the social policy response to the way in which major funders and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) are now prioritising ‘impact’ has been remarkably muted. Elsewhere in the social sciences, ‘research impact’ is being widely debated and a wealth of concerns about the way in which this agenda is being pursued are being articulated. Here, we argue there is an urgent need for social policy academics to join this debate. First, we employ interviews with academics involved in health inequalities research, undertaken between 2004-2015, to explore perceptions, and experiences, of the ‘impact agenda’ (an analysis which is informed by a review of guidelines for assessing ‘impact’ and relevant academic literature). Next, we analyse high and low scoring REF2014 impact case studies to assess whether these concerns appear justified. We conclude by outlining how social policy expertise might usefully contribute to efforts to encourage, measure and reward research ‘impact’.",
    keywords = "social policy, research impact agenda, Research Excellence Framework, REF",
    author = "Smith, {Katherine E} and Ellen Stewart",
    year = "2017",
    month = "1",
    day = "31",
    doi = "10.1017/S0047279416000283",
    language = "English",
    volume = "46",
    pages = "109--127",
    journal = "Journal of Social Policy",
    issn = "0047-2794",
    number = "1",

    }

    We need to talk about impact : why social policy academics need to engage with the UK's research impact agenda. / Smith, Katherine E; Stewart, Ellen.

    In: Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 46, No. 1, 31.01.2017, p. 109-127.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - We need to talk about impact

    T2 - Journal of Social Policy

    AU - Smith, Katherine E

    AU - Stewart, Ellen

    PY - 2017/1/31

    Y1 - 2017/1/31

    N2 - Of all the social sciences, social policy is one of the most obviously policy-orientated. One might, therefore, expect a research and funding agenda which prioritises and rewards policy relevance to garner an enthusiastic response among social policy scholars. Yet, the social policy response to the way in which major funders and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) are now prioritising ‘impact’ has been remarkably muted. Elsewhere in the social sciences, ‘research impact’ is being widely debated and a wealth of concerns about the way in which this agenda is being pursued are being articulated. Here, we argue there is an urgent need for social policy academics to join this debate. First, we employ interviews with academics involved in health inequalities research, undertaken between 2004-2015, to explore perceptions, and experiences, of the ‘impact agenda’ (an analysis which is informed by a review of guidelines for assessing ‘impact’ and relevant academic literature). Next, we analyse high and low scoring REF2014 impact case studies to assess whether these concerns appear justified. We conclude by outlining how social policy expertise might usefully contribute to efforts to encourage, measure and reward research ‘impact’.

    AB - Of all the social sciences, social policy is one of the most obviously policy-orientated. One might, therefore, expect a research and funding agenda which prioritises and rewards policy relevance to garner an enthusiastic response among social policy scholars. Yet, the social policy response to the way in which major funders and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) are now prioritising ‘impact’ has been remarkably muted. Elsewhere in the social sciences, ‘research impact’ is being widely debated and a wealth of concerns about the way in which this agenda is being pursued are being articulated. Here, we argue there is an urgent need for social policy academics to join this debate. First, we employ interviews with academics involved in health inequalities research, undertaken between 2004-2015, to explore perceptions, and experiences, of the ‘impact agenda’ (an analysis which is informed by a review of guidelines for assessing ‘impact’ and relevant academic literature). Next, we analyse high and low scoring REF2014 impact case studies to assess whether these concerns appear justified. We conclude by outlining how social policy expertise might usefully contribute to efforts to encourage, measure and reward research ‘impact’.

    KW - social policy

    KW - research impact agenda

    KW - Research Excellence Framework

    KW - REF

    U2 - 10.1017/S0047279416000283

    DO - 10.1017/S0047279416000283

    M3 - Article

    VL - 46

    SP - 109

    EP - 127

    JO - Journal of Social Policy

    JF - Journal of Social Policy

    SN - 0047-2794

    IS - 1

    ER -