Responsible Impact (ReAct) is a participatory exercise at the Department of Communication and Psychology that seeks to develop and explore the department's impact ecosystem. By staff engagement and iterative focus groups, the project collects and assesses annotated real-time data based on registration of impact activities (knowledge dissemination, pathways and linkages) by researchers at the Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University. By applying a rich and comprehensive impact taxonomy developed by interactive feedback from researchers at the department combined with a user-friendly web-based registration interface, the project aims to capture the diverse impact profiles of the department’s heterogeneous research groups while at the same time allowing researchers to have significant influence on how their impact is represented and communicated.
Universities and research funding agencies increasingly seek to understand and assess the way in which research translates into societal impact. In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in attempts to promote and measure knowledge exchange between universities and society as well as to capture the impact of research by indicators and metrics. Most indicators focus on bibliometric output and economic benefits (e.g. numbers of spin-offs, patents, gross value added, jobs created). While these are relatively easy to measure, it has turned out much more difficult to answer, especially with data and evidence, how universities and research groups are bringing about broader societal benefits (in society, economy, environment).
ReAct aims to develop a model of Responsible Impact by assessing how research practices at Department of Communication and Psychology are embedded in relations, networks and connectivity with actors outside and beyond academia. By explicitly drawing on a responsible approach to research assessment, ReAct takes into account the diversity of impacts by creating a participatory taxonomy, which allows researchers to create their own impact typology and redefine existing categories.
This is done through a carefully structured engagement process in which researchers from Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University are invited to contribute significant insights about impact pathways arising from their work. By revising the impact taxonomy based on the input from practicing researchers, the resulting impact assessment tool becomes more sensitive towards diverse purposes, timeframes and scales of research impact.
ReAct outlines a new approach to assessing research impact and its consequences for policy, funding, research management and research support. Core to this exercise is an attempt to empower researchers from Department of Communication and Psychology to take ownership over their impact profile and use recorded impact data for further learning, career-development, funding and communication.