Prof Christopher Megone of the University of Leeds gave a seminar at Lingnan University on 13 April to reflect on the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 in the UK, and in particular whether the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences are unlikely disciplines for impact or knowledge transfer.
Prof Megone is a consultant commissioned by the University Grants Committee (UGC) of Hong Kong at the inception of the new UGC Fund for Knowledge Transfer, and is himself a long-time practitioner of knowledge transfer in interdisciplinary applied ethics.
In the REF 2014 in the UK, 20% of funding depended on an assessment of the “research impact”. In Hong Kong, results of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2014 were just released in January this year. Although it is not yet known if reference may be made to the REF in the next round of RAE, research impact has already become a topic of discussion.
Prof Megone pointed out that a pivotal quality of impact or knowledge transfer is that it must be an impact beyond publications and the academia, such as impacts generated from research to inform government policy and relevant sectors on public or professional platforms, engagements of artists in the creative arts disciplines, and the provision of consultancy and professional development by university academics for people in the industry. Prof Megone encouraged our faculty to collect data on evidence to show impact in ways of changing professional practice or even policies, in addition to simply the number of audience turning up at a public talk. This is because the two criteria for impact or knowledge transfer in REF were “reach” and “depth”, which referred to not only the number of people impacted but also how major a change was made.