Impact. The fleeting quantity by which scientists, academic journals and universities are ranked to direct research funding. For a 21st century academic, this elusive entity should simultaneously pervade research motivation, method, output and outreach. In some it raises eyebrows and suspicion just like any other buzzword, in others it raises hope for making a difference in an increasingly complex and deranged world. There’s much ado about impact, but what exactly is it, and how, if at all, should it be measured?
To begin with, I’ll start with a disclaimer: if by impact we mean having positive and high-quality influence with our research, I’m all in for impact. In fact, as someone working in environmental research, I’d be absolutely thrilled to see our work having more impact. Unfortunately, however, “impact” isn’t always what it seems to be. Therefore, a critical dissection of the notion of impact seems to be in place.Read More