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Digital Science to analyse REF impact case studies

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A new project will analyse the wider impact of the research undertaken by UK universities. Digital Science in conjunction with Nature Publishing Group and the policy institute at Kings College London have been commissioned by HEFCE and partners to work on the project.

As part of the UK’s 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, the country’s universities submitted 6,975 impact case studies showcasing the impact of their research beyond academia. These studies outline changes and benefits to the economy, society, culture, health, the environment, quality of life, public policy and services.

The objectives of this work are to make the impact case studies freely available in a form and format that will enable any researcher to carry out analysis on the database. Additionally the aim is to carry out a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the impact case studies, to extract common themes and messages that will form evidence of the broad impact of higher education research on wider society.

Steven Hill, HEFCE head of research policy, explained: ‘Sector-level analysis of the REF impact case studies will be of great benefit to the UK's higher education sector as a whole, and will provide valuable information to demonstrate the range of impacts of its research.’

The results of the project will be published in Spring 2015. A summary will be published as a supplement in Nature.