On the 26th of February 2019, the department held a workshop among academic staff members to generate and capture group discussions on (1) Traditional forms of research impact, and (2) Non-traditional forms of research impact. This whole-day workshop was held at the Domain’s Winter Garden Pavilion and was designed to keep staff members focused on the workshop agenda, and away from other distractions.

So, what is Research Impact?  Here are some definitions of research impact from different sources:

  • Webster: Impact is the impression of one thing on another e.g. a significant or major effect of science on our society
  • Wiley Research Impact Forum: Research Impact is the effect you make on society and the community around you
  • UK Research Excellence Framework: Research Impact is an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia

For traditional forms of research impact, the groups discussed how research excellence, and the measuring of such excellence, played a key role. One exercise the participants carried out was in reviewing relevant high-quality publications in the premier journal Nature and reflected on where one’s own research sat in comparison.

For non-traditional forms of research impact, the groups discussed how significant the department research was in being able to benefit and influence lives, communities and society. The challenge would be how such influence is determined and then measured. One important point that was raised was that probably the most effective impact academic research can have, has been in research-led teaching. The extent to which new and cutting-edge research of individual staff members is incorporated into the curriculum should be quantified and the outcomes measured – for example in student and alumni feedback from having been exposed to these ideas.


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