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Ref 2014 and Impact

Reading the Runes for Anthropology in Action

Bob Simpson

On 18 December 2014, the results of the U.K.’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) evaluation exercise were released. This extensive and very costly exercise is intended to take the pulse of U.K. university-based research and now happens once every six years or so. It is also the principal tool used to determine the allocation of approximately £1.6 billion of quality-related (QR) research funding which maintains the fabric of research activity in U.K. HE institutions. Given the fiscal consequences of REF performance it is not surprising that that universities expended considerable time and effort preparing their submissions in the run-up to the exercise and that the results were pored over by academics and their managers across the country. This was a very complex set of runes to read.

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Abigail Baim-Lance and Cecilia Vindrola-Padros

Academic funding bodies are increasingly measuring research impact using accountability and reward assessments. Scholars have argued that frameworks attempting to measure the use-value of knowledge production could end up influencing the selection of research topics, limiting research agendas, and privileging linear over complex research designs. Our article responds to these concerns by calling upon insights from anthropology to reconceptualise impact. We argue that, to conduct socially beneficial studies, impact needs to be turned from a product to an inclusive process of engagement. Anthropology's epistemologically and methodologically rich tradition of ethnography offers a particularly apposite set of tools to achieve this goal. We present three concrete examples of how we have used ethnography to impact on the work we carry out, particularly in shaping multidisciplinary team-based research approaches.

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Samantha Page and Marilyn Strathern

benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia’ ( REF 2014: 48 ). The criteria for assessing impact were ‘reach’ and ‘significance’. Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern is a

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Applied Anthropology in Europe

Historical Obstacles, Current Situation, Future Challenges

Dan Podjed, Meta Gorup and Alenka Bezjak Mlakar

( 2009 ), ‘ Future of Indigenous Knowledge Research in Development ’, Futures: The Journal of Policy, Planning and Futures Studies 41 , no. 1 : 13 – 23 . Simpson , B. ( 2015 ), ‘ Ref 2014 and Impact: Reading the Runes for Anthropology in Action