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Exploring the degree of delegated authority for the peer review of societal impact

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/10/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Science and Public Policy
Issue number5
Volume45
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)673-682
Publication statusPublished
Early online date22/01/18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article explores how panel expert reviewers’ evaluative practice was influenced by external, political considerations during the assessment of a societal impact criterion. The results showed that prior to the evaluation process, participants demonstrated a strong preconceived, political belief that the results of the evaluation process must ‘showcase’ the value of British research to the public and policymakers as part of a rationale designed to ensure continued public-based research funding. Post-evaluation interviews revealed how, during the societal impact assessment, evaluators drew on these strong beliefs which informed a group-based strategy of ‘generous marking’ of submissions. We discuss the implications of external motivations that influence the direction of research audit exercises where the definition of the criteria is untested, unclear, and unfamiliar to evaluators, as well as discuss the suitability of peer review as an evaluation tool. Both have implications for the future legitimacy of impact assessment as a formalized criterion.