You need cookies enabled

Cookies

You need cookies enabled

What is a REF impact case study?

Each higher education institution submitted a selection of impact case studies for assessment in the REF. An impact case study is a four-page document. It describes the impact of research undertaken within the submitting department. It also contains information about the research that underpins the impact that took place. 

Further information about the criteria for the submission of impact case studies can be found in the two key REF guidance documents:

Back to top

What is the REF impact case study database?

The REF Impact case studies database is a web tool developed by Digital Science. It presents the impact case studies normalised to a common format to enable high level search functionality. 

The impact case studies have been tagged with information about fields of research, impact types and location of activity to enable indexing and faster searching. Flexible keyword-based search is also available. 

The database includes 6,637 documents (at 18 November 2015) submitted by UK higher education institutions (HEIs) to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014). 

Back to top

How was the ‘impact type’ of an impact case study identified? 

The summary impact types used come from the REF impact case study database. 

Impact case studies have been assigned to a single ‘Summary Impact Type’ by text analysis of the ‘Summary of the Impact’ (Section 1 of the Impact case study template). This is an indicative guide to aid searching and is not a definitive assignment of the impact described. 

There are eight Summary Impact Types. These follow the PESTLE convention (Political, Economic, Societal, Technological, Legal, and Environmental) widely used in government policy development. Health and Cultural impact types (otherwise subsumed within Societal) have been added to the six standard categories. 

Most REF impact case studies relate at some level to more than one type of impact. Some case studies arguably cover all eight. User perspectives on this will vary.

Back to top

How have the UK locations been identified for the case studies?

The UK locations come from the REF impact case study database. REF impact case studies have been tagged with one or more UK locations on the basis of places (UK cities and towns, as found in the GeoNames database) referenced in the text of either Section 1 (Summary of impact) or Section 4 (Details of the impact) of the document. 

It is not a definitive identification of where UK impact has occurred as some text makes passing references to associated locations. Other text references impact beneficiaries without a specific location. 

Note that the automated indexing cannot distinguish between, for example, Dover as a town, as the name of a street or as a person’s surname.

Back to top

How have the global locations been identified for the case studies?

The global locations come from the REF impact case study database. REF impact case studies have been tagged with one or more global locations on the basis of places (place names, as found in the GeoNames database) referenced in the text of either Section 1 (Summary of impact) or Section 4 (Details of the impact) of the document. 

Global locations outside the UK are grouped by country. It is not a definitive identification of where the impact has occurred as some text makes passing reference to associated locations, while other text references impact beneficiaries without a specific location. 

Note that the automated indexing cannot distinguish between, for example, Brazil as a country, as the name of a street or as a person’s surname.

Back to top

Do the maps provide a full account of all research impact?

No. REF impact case studies were provided selectively and do not account for all research impact at higher education institutions. 

UK and global locations were not a mandatory requirement for institutions describing the impact of their research. Therefore, other locations will also have been impacted by UK HE research. 

It is not a definitive identification of where the impact has occurred as some text makes passing reference to associated locations, while other text references impact beneficiaries without a specific location.

Back to top

Why are some disciplines and impact types not available in the filtered searches?

If a set of search results produces no returns for any specific category, then that discipline or impact type was not identified in the results set.

Back to top

Is there a way to make the maps run quicker?

Tableau Reader will speed up your use of the maps. 

Once you have the software, click ‘Download’ in the Tableau bar at the bottom right hand corner of the maps webpage and select Tableau Workbook.

Back to top

Why are there no search results for some HEIs on the UK map?

As part of the REF impact case study database development, REF impact case studies were tagged with one or more UK locations on the basis of places (UK cities and towns, as found in the GeoNames database). Tags were added if referenced in the text of either Section 1 (Summary of impact) or Section 4 (Details of the impact) of the document. Impact case studies that state UK countries, for example ‘Wales’, will not be represented in the maps because a specific destination in Wales has not been identified.

Back to top

Page last updated 9 May 2016