‘Publication patterns in research underpinning impact in REF 2014’ (Note 1) is the first report to analyse all research publications submitted for research assessment between 1988 and 2014. The study found that at least 42 per cent of the research cited in impact case studies in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) had been submitted as research outputs to the various prior research assessments. This suggests that research of scholarly significance leads to societal impact, but also emphasises the broad base of research from which impact stems.
The analysis covers almost 1 million submitted research outputs and more than 35,000 impact case study references across 25 years and five assessment exercises. The report considers the relationship between submitted outputs (as evidence of academic research quality) and impact case study references (as evidence of societal and economic impact). It explores what the data says about the selection of research outputs for assessment, and about changes in selection behaviour as a response to assessment.
Key findings include:
Steven Hill, Head of research policy at HEFCE, said:
‘The innovative analysis in this report gives us, for the first time, evidence that research of all types leads to wider benefits for the economy, society and the environment. The findings emphasise the importance of supporting a diverse range of research to deliver impact.’
Jonathan Adams, Chief Scientist and Head of Consultancy at Digital Science, said:
‘This huge body of work provides us with uniquely rich data on research activity, submitted outputs and case studies across 25 years and five assessment exercises. This is one of several perspectives that Digital Science has created on these data. The data will be available for the research base to mine in order to assess, uncover and understand the scholarly significance of the UK research base.
1. The report is available on the HEFCE website at www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/rereports/Year/2016/refimpact/.
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