The nature, scale and beneficiaries of research impact: An initial analysis of Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 impact case studies. King’s College London and Digital Science (.pdf)

« … This report provides an initial assessment of the nature, scale and beneficiaries of the impact of UK universities’ research. It is based on an analysis of the 6,679 non redacted impact case studies that were submitted to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). Each case study aimed to showcase how research undertaken in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) over the past 20 years has benefited society beyond academia – whether in the UK or globally. The case studies make an inspiring read that outline changes and benefits to the economy, society, culture, public policy and services, health, the environment and quality of life that have arisen from research. A mix of text-mining techniques and qualitative analysis was used to synthesize the corpus of case studies. Text-mining itself can be dangerous and dirty: dangerous, as it is possible to misinterpret information in the text; and dirty, as it involves a lot of experimentation and trying by doing. Given the size of the dataset (more than 6 million words in the ‘Details of the impact’ section of the case studies), text-mining was useful in producing an analysis of the general patterns and themes that could be described in the case studies. In order to probe the data further, we supplemented the text-mining method with six focused ‘deep mine’ questions of more than 1,000 case studies, which were read and from which qualitative inferences were made. We consider the analysis presented in this report as ‘Version 1.0’, and we emphasize the caveats and limitations to our analysis that are set out in Chapter 1. In order to help digest the large amount of data generated, a series of data visualizations are presented in the main body of the report (…) »