Researchers are facing a growing demand to demonstrate that their work has consequences – an impact. Those who fund the research are increasingly seeking evidence that the research has practical, or real-world, implications. For example, the Research Excellence Framework (REF – formerly Research Assessment Exercise – RAE) currently run in the UK includes the need for explicit and documented information on the effect of the scholarly work on “real life” and professional realms. The governments of the Netherlands, Canada and Australia are following a similar line. There is nothing new in thinking about who is your audience. Brown (1993) provides 10 qualities good research will possess. He suggests that good empirical research is motivated by the choice of a question that is important to others and an outcome that is believed will add to knowledge or understanding. The author(s) should also have a sound appreciation of the study’s implications and limitations. The other seven qualities are more closely associated with the robustness of the research itself. Research Councils UK (RCUK) defines research impact as “the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy”. RCUK also differentiates between academic impact and economic and societal impact. The former is the impact the research makes to scientific advances, such as, in understanding, method, theory and application. The latter is the contribution the research makes to society and the economy, of benefit to individuals, organisations and nations. The quality of the research remains paramount. Researchers are not being forced to limit their work to areas that might lead to immediate and observable practical implications, or we hope that they are not. But some funding bodies are providing greater weight to good research that also has demonstrated practical consequences. Bodies such as RCUK want funding applicants to think about the audience for the research, from the outset […]
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