Deep impact: re-conceptualising university research impact using human cultural accumulation theory

Geoff Woolcott, Robyn Keast, David Grant Pickernell

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    Measuring impact from university research is increasingly seen as important, not least because of its use in resource allocation processes by governments. These measurement approaches, however, often take ‘wide and shallow’ economic effect-based views that are ex-post, linear and uni-directional. Consequently, research collaborations between universities and external stakeholders are often ignored, particularly when stakeholders are local or community-based and the research focus is on social rather than purely economic ends, because impacts of these projects are less easily measured, and are more likely to have narrower (though deeper) effects spatially. Using an illustrative case study, this paper shows that there are mechanisms able to measure broader concepts of impact, specifically ones where impacts also occur through the PROCESS of undertaking the research itself (as opposed to just as a RESULT of it), highlighting ways in which this type of analysis could be utilised for future evaluation of research collaborations.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalStudies in Higher Education
    Early online date21 Mar 2019
    Publication statusEarly online - 21 Mar 2019


    • impact
    • collaboration
    • university research
    • social network analysis
    • university-community


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