Making and impact with research: (II) mindset

I wrote in my first post in this series that the trend towards greater emphasis in research on making an impact beyond researchers’ own communities has had a mixed reception.

Broadly, I have in, my work with universities, discerned three mindsets. They are:

  1. resistance: policy-makers’ emphasis on impact is [select from the following] ignorant, philistine, or Orwellian. That is, the policy is, apparently, based on the beliefs that all research is predictably utilitarian or valuable only from a utilitarian perspective and on an intention on the part of government to control or police knowledge;
  2. pragmatic: it’s here so, whether we like it or not, we have to live with it;
  3. come-on-in-the-water’s-lovely: the emphasis on research creates exciting opportunities for extending the audience for research and for changing the way researchers work.

The interesting point here is that the question of which of the above you adhere to makes no difference to how you should respond. 

If you adhere to (2) or (3), you should clearly takes steps to learn how researchers can make more impact beyond their community.

And this is also true of adherents of (1). That is, if you believe that there are grounds for resistance, that is presumably because you believe the impact business has arrived — fact. And, in that case, you’re going to have to deal with it — assuming you will require public funding — so morphing into (2) is only a question of time.

Subsequent posts in this series will, therefore, ignore the ‘why’ of research impact and concentrate on the ‘how’.



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