In the modern era were our jobs are planned down to each 15 minutes slot of the working day and we have annual performance reviews, and appraisals, where we are not only expected to have defined inputs (research expenditure, students, staff, etc.), outputs (publications, patents, etc.) but IMPACT as well. Impact is the next big science metric. The one that is fashionable at the moment is the so called H-index. I must get asked at least once a week what my H-index is; it is as if we are in some kind of competition on a league table. When I was introduced a few weeks ago at a meeting the chairman mentioned my H-index, which was really irrelevant to the task at hand.
In the UK we have the ‘Research Excellence Framework‘ or REF that judges the quality of our research and is responsible for defining our funding. In the last REF a proportion of the assessment was based on IMPACT. We have been told that for the next REF this proportion will increase. The problem is how do you define research IMPACT and how do you measure it? As part of our preparations for the next REF we need to document, and show, whether or not the amount of time our group spends on public engagement and PPI (patient-public-involvement) is having any impact. If it is having no impact we will have a difficult time justifying the extraordinary amount of time we spend on it. This is the primary reason why we submitted the poster below to ECTRIMS. This poster is the beginning of a body of work we will perform over the next few years to collect data to show we have impact, or not. Does our blog have impact is the question we have to answer and is the reason why Alison recently ran the survey on the topic that so many of you completed. Thank you.
Documenting impact is going to be time consuming and in a previous era would have been seen as a waste of time. I personally think it is a distraction; impactful research is usually obvious and you don’t need to define it with a metric. Unfortunately, we have to play the game; our positions, funding, etc. depends on it.