The Transformative Potential of Research

I speak with a lot of a researchers who resent the Impact agenda. One popular opinion posits that the exercises we use to predict or evaluate impact distract them from the work itself. I think this is in part due to the fact that the narrative surrounding ‘impact’ in the academic research community has been a little myopic and focussed on only a subset of potential impacts that research might have in society. It is however changing, as the framework we use to evaluate the impact of completed research on a national level is being prompted to reconsider how we interpret research impact.

It could be that some of the informed opinion that fed into Stern was influenced by a movement that is very much part of the global research zeitgeist: Responsible Research and Innovation or RRI.  RRI takes that research has a transformative potential (and thus has impact) on society as a basic assumption.

Its philosophy encompasses various agendas that are already well-embedded within the academy’s research culture, including public engagement, open access, gender equality, science education, ethics, and governance.  However the RRI moment seeks to bring these together, and more specifically, seeks to encourage researchers to consider a more holistic approach to engaging society in research, even in its planning stages, its production, its governance, and its dissemination so that a broad range of stakeholders (including the public) have the opportunity to feed into various parts of the process, and enabling it to respond better to society’s needs.

As part of this month’s ‘in a couple of minutes’ video series, we look at RRI, and specifically the European portal for RRI practitioners and resources: RRI tools (www.rri-tools.eu).  Here you will find a database of contacts, resources, tools, and training opportunities that you can use to consider how you might adopt more of this impact philosophy in your research planning and practice.

rriscreenshot

All ‘in a couple of minutes’ videos are available on QMPlus, in the research staff development section. If you’ve not accessed this content before, you will be prompted to login using your QMUL credentials first, and then follow the prompts to auto-enrol into the section.  It is open to all QMUL staff and students.

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About ruipiresmartins

I'm a researcher developer for postdocs and research staff at Queen Mary University of London. Prior to that, I was an EMBO Fellow at the Gurdon Institute (University of Cambridge), studying Embryonic development and a PDRA in the Institute of Bioengineering (QMUL) studying nuclear and chromatin architecture in embryonic stem cells.
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