The perils of 'impact' for academic social science

Hammersley, Martyn (2014). The perils of 'impact' for academic social science. Contemporary Social Science: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences, 9(3) pp. 345–355.



‘Impact’ has become a standard way of conceptualising the contributions that research makes to policy-making and practice, this reflecting in large part the shift from a state patronage to an investment model of research funding. However, little attention has been given to the metaphor that underpins the term ‘impact’. Yet this is important because there are ways in which it can distort our understanding of the public contribution of academic research, and thereby create false expectations about it. Some problematic assumptions built into the metaphor are examined, along with several ways in which it may obscure our understanding of the relationship between research and policy-making or practice.

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