Put down the prosecco, we’re not done yet

Jolly, Anne and Bayley, Julie (2021) Put down the prosecco, we’re not done yet. Emerald Publishing Opinion and Blog .

Full content URL: https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/opinion-and...


Request a copy
[img] HTML
put-down-prosecco-were-not-done-yet - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


In the UK we’ve just cleared this second submission cycle of the Research Excellence Framework (2014, 2021). As we collectively clicked ‘submit’ and sipped a glass of (in some places University supplied) Prosecco, many of us felt less a sense of relief, and more a sense of exhaustion. Whilst there remain considerable international variations in impact and more specifically impact assessment, our UK experience has foregrounded a number of reasons to be cautious about carrying on to the next cycle without really paying attention to the collateral damage on the sector. Of course we should recognise and celebrate the enormity of effort extoled to deliver the mammoth project that was REF 2021, but at the same time we need to put down the Prosecco, as we’re not done yet.

Earlier this year, we (with colleagues Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse and Dr Chris Hewson) wrote about how the reality of creating impact for assessment is far more of an industry than a simple ‘harvest’ of naturally occurring research achievements. That – notwithstanding the extraordinary work of so many academics, research managers, non-academic partners and many more – the process itself risks diverting resources away from other university functions, drives fearfulness and can sour rather than solidify stakeholder relationships. The various damage to people (burden and burnout), culture (impact as selectively unrewarded labour) and impact itself (valuing only ‘big’) has been in places so corrosive that it would be neglectful to plough on ahead without redressing it for future cycles.

We found ourselves extending this ploughing analogy further. The University of Lincoln is a proudly Civic University, built by and within the community, and operating on the principle that the walls between academia and society should be Permeable. Whilst Lincoln is active in many areas of research and practice, it has particularly strong links with agriculture, unsurprisingly given its rural location and significant farming landscape. We found ourselves drawn to five principles, five agricultural analogies, to help us to better conceptualise and thus support people within the journey from seeds to an impact ‘harvest’:

Ensure healthy foundations (or ‘check your soil’).
Build in impact literacy (or ‘do people know how to grow the crops?’).
Determine what matters (or check you’re planting the right crops’).
Be an active part of your ecosystem (or ‘look out for foxes, mice and badgers’).
Remember people are involved throughout (or ‘from Farm to Fork’).

Impact isn’t itself an academic endeavour; by definition it’s deliverable outside that bubble, yet so routinely tasked to academics. For us to lose the potential for further collateral damage, it needs a far more ecosystem, embedded and sustainable approach, supported at all levels of the institution and recognising the myriad of people who contribute to its success. Because as we put the prosecco down, we need to pick the people up.

Keywords:impact, REF
Subjects:L Social studies > L430 Public Policy
Divisions:Professional services
Professional services > Vice Chancellors Office
Related URLs:
ID Code:46861
Deposited On:12 Oct 2021 14:57

Repository Staff Only: item control page