You‘re about to design a research policy. The policy should increase the societal impact of research in your country and globally.
This thinking game is to navigate you. Plan your policy by choosing from any option. We will challenge you and comment on your choices and their potential consequences. In the end, you’ll get a summary of your decisions and more hints to further think about societal impact. Isn’t that great?
What is the primary aim of the impact policy or intervention you are about to design?
Interested in reading about our case study of the UK Research Excellence Framework or the Australian Engagement and Impact Assessment? Click on them and they will appear in a separate browser tab, they really do!
Who is putting so much pressure on you?
Great. Interactions between different stakeholders are certainly a main driver of societal impact. But make sure not to overload your stakeholders and give them time to do their essential tasks. Maybe you have an interest in the Productive Interactions Approach. (Click on it)
What is the underlying understanding of societal impact in this context?
- Outputs are tangible or intangible products. Outcomes are short to medium effects, or the ‘step changes’ that occur in pursuit of longterm goals. That's what we might call impact.
- Societal impact refers to any effect (positive or negative) of research beyond academia, or the effect or change experienced by society from that research.
- Impact is science's positive contribution or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life caused beyond academia.
- When we get academia and society into interactions, this is societal impact already!
Well of course it is, isn’t it? But give it another try.
Nice shot. So you say impact is any change induced by science. But is science not always having some effect on society? Isn’t it hard to find science with no effects? And is science not part of society itself?
Ah, you mean the good stuff. But what exactly is good? Who decides what’s good and bad?
It is certainly legitimate to view it that way. (Also see the Productive Interactions Approach)
Who to include in designing the policy?
- No one but us. We have all the knowledge to foresee what‘s most impactful. And we know what society needs.
- No one but us. It’s too time-consuming to get others on board.
- As many stakeholders as possible. How can we know everything?
- Civil Society Members. Because society knows best what's good for it!
- Academic researchers! They are the experts.
- I don't want academic research be corrupted by particularistic interests.
We like your self-confidence. And we are sure you know a lot about society and how to improve it. Please share your knowledge with us and everyone else!
Are you tired of commonplace answers and never ending debates without getting anywhere? Well, not answering your phone is an option sometimes.
You busy lizzie. Great that you want to integrate insights and perspectives. But what exactly do you want to learn from them, and how will you involve them? And how to handle the information load and opposing opinions?
Great pick. But consider that societal members and researchers can have different and opposing interests. Some want the impossible, so let’s organise a focus group!
What a time-saving move! But are you sure academia can always take the pulse of society? Fine excuse: it’s all case-dependent, is it not?
Fair enough. But maybe there are other options (transparency, multi-stakeholder settings) of inclusion without giving it away.
Apart from you as a policymaker and funder, when to involve which kind of stakeholders in developing the policy?
Already in the agenda setting (from the very beginning), in ex ante evaluation, in planning and implementing the policy
In the actual running of the programme
Ex post; Dissemination of results and Evaluation