Posts tagged: Research Excellence

We need to talk about research impact (again)



Original post 

University of Salford’s Impact Coordinator – Chris Hewson discusses why we need to talk about research impact:

Over the last eighteen months, much has been written and said about impact, and how Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can effectively, and efficiently, place themselves on a secure footing in preparation for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF). Nonetheless, it could be argued that the fevered animation generated by REF2014 has led to a prolonged and ongoing hangover. For most academics and administrators the experience of co-producing impact case studies was a forensic and thought-provoking, albeit ‘seat of the pants’ and largely extemporised experience. The refrain consistently repeated in strategy offices across the land goes something like this: ‘…there is absolutely no chance we’re going to execute our REF impact strategy in such an unsystematic and post-hoc fashion come 2020.’

But we are, aren’t we? As Julie Bayley and Casper Hitchens note, “the burden of effort and pressure to ‘find impact’ led to impact fatigue and a tarnished view of the concept” [i]. Their remedies are sound, and were arrived at independently by a number HEIs of in the aftermath of 18th December 2014; the need for greater planning and (ongoing) data collection, the institutional normalisation of impact, the co-ordination of both internal and external engagement processes, and so forth. The authors playfully mimic the language of HEFCE, noting the dawning of “an opportunity to significantly and demonstrably… change how we achieve impact.


Research Excellence Award – Vice Chancellor’s Awards 2015-16

Congratulations go to Dr Stephen Parnell, Lecturer in Spatial Epidemiology in the School of Environment and Life Sciences, who has been award the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award. Dr Parnell was presented with his award at the University Day celebrations on 8th June by Dr Jo Cresswell, Associate Director of Research.




Stephen is a mathematical modeller with research interests in epidemiology and the use of modelling and spatial analysis to better understand disease spread and control. He has an established international reputation as an expert in quantitative approaches to surveillance for emerging diseases.

Stephen’s research has attracted national and international attention from grant funding bodies including DEFRA and the USDA, and from international academic communities and national media, with his work leading to changes in our understanding of early detection emerging diseases.

Describing his School and Research at the award ceremony, Stephen said:

“The School of Environment and Life Sciences is a fantastic, supportive environment for research and I’m really grateful for the nomination that led to the award. It’s great to have this work recognised by the University and I look forward to developing the work further with another post-doctoral researcher joining the group in August.

“Our research looks at how we can better protect agriculture and the environment from the inundation of exotic plant pests and diseases that threaten them. With increases in global trade and travel, plant pests and diseases are continuing to show up in unexpected places causing sometimes billions of pounds worth of damage and irreversibly changing landscapes and ecosystems. We develop mathematical and computer models of how plant disease epidemics spread and use these to devise better surveillance strategies. With more effective surveillance we can catch new epidemics before they get out of control.”

Follow Dr Parnell’s work on Twitter @parnells