#PoliticalSpeak: impact or lack of impact

Why has academia become so bureaucratic? #PoliticalSpeak #MSBlog

Life as an academic is becoming increasingly complicated and frustrating; I spend an extraordinary amount of time doing administration. We have been asked to start preparing for the next REF, which is likely to be in 2020, and need your help. 

In the UK academic institutions are assessed every 6-7 years as part of the Research Excellence Framework exercise or REF. As part of this assessment we have to provide ‘impact case studies’ demonstrating the impact of our research on wider society. Impact is defined as ‘an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia’.

We had an informal discussion yesterday about what academic activities we are engaged in have impact and how can we show impact. If we have to submit an impact statement next REF we will need to be able to demonstrate how we are having impact with the relevant metrics, etc. As you are quite close to our activities you could help us prioritise our efforts so that we can focus on the academic activities that are most likely to succeed. This exercise will also help focus our minds as a group. Thank you. 

CoI: multiple

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • The problem with this form i that there is no "don't know" option.

    I totally agree with the bureaucratisation of academia notion. It is the side effect of something and we can debate what that something is. It is also the trend amongst many fields of endeavour. I suppose I should add that it has been a trend for many years, perhaps centuries.

  • I think the bureaucratisation of academia (and of many fields of endeavour) is the result of a wealthier society – providing jobs for people who aren't up to doing original research or whatever the main field of endeavour is.
    I could not fill out your survey without a don't know option. I have never heard of some of the things being asked about. For example, what are Barts MS Preceptorships?

    • The Preceptorships are training/education courses on multiple sclerosis for pharma and neurologists etc where people with MS talk and inform about their condition and experiences

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