Tools of the Trade: UK Research Intermediaries and the Politics of Impacts [Book Review]

Minerva 49 (2):153-174 (2011)

Abstract
In recent years questions concerning the impact of public research funding have become the preeminent site at which struggles over the meanings and value of science are played out. In this paper we explore the ‘politics of impact’ in contemporary UK science and research policy and, in particular, detail the ways in which UK research councils have responded to and reframed recent calls for the quantitative measurement of research impacts. Operating as ‘boundary organisations’ research councils are embroiled in what might be characterised as the ‘politics of demarcation’ in which competing understandings of the cultural values of science are traded, exchanged and contested. In this paper we focus on the way the UK’s ‘Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’ (EPSRC) has responded to contemporary policy discourses concerning the impacts of public research expenditure. We argue that, in response to the shifting terms of contemporary science policy, the EPSRC has adopted three distinct strategies. Firstly, in collaboration with other research councils the EPSRC have emphasised the intellectual and metrological challenge presented by attempts to quantify the economic impact of public research expenditure, emphasising instead the cumulative impacts of a broad portfolio of ‘basic science’. Secondly, the EPSRC has sought to widen the discursive meaning of research impacts – specifically to include societal and policy impacts in addition to economic ones. Thirdly, the EPSRC has introduced a new framing into the ‘impact agenda’, preferring to talk about ‘pathways to impact’ rather than research impacts per se. In responding to government priority setting, we argue that the EPSRC has sought to exploit both the technical fragility of auditing techniques and the discursive ambiguity of notions of impact
Keywords Boundary work  Science policy  United Kingdom  Impact  Value
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11024-011-9172-4
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 47,122
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification.Michael Power - 1999 - British Journal of Educational Studies 47 (1):92-94.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

An Ethics of the System: Talking to Scientists About Research Integrity.Sarah R. Davies - 2019 - Science and Engineering Ethics 25 (4):1235-1253.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Financial Interests and Research Bias.David B. Resnik - 2000 - Perspectives on Science 8 (3):255-285.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2011-06-10

Total views
20 ( #470,016 of 2,289,283 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #589,325 of 2,289,283 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature