Can social science’s impact be boiled down to improving and enriching lives?
In recent years, there has been an uptake in requirements from funders across the globe to prove impact of scholarly work, and simultaneously, intensified scrutiny about the value of social and behavioral science. From Britain’s Research Excellence Framework, which now bases its assessments in large part on measureable impact, to Congressional broadsides that SBS research without immediate observable impact is “wasteful,” to the Pentagon creating a research impact-scoring system, demonstrating scholarly impact is quickly becoming the new normal.
While there is a social facet of every single major issue humankind faces, funding for and use of evidence-based research from social and behavioral fields is precarious. An absence of demonstrated impact increases this precarity. So we return to our opening question.
“Research changes how people do or think about something,” said Euan Adie, founder of Altmetric, during the 2019 annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science. Adie, along with Camille Gamboa, SAGE Publishing’s director of corporate communications and public affairs, HuMetricsHSS team member Rebecca Kennison, and Simine Vazire, co-founder of the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science, discussed research’s role in people’s lives in a panel entitled “Taking the measure of impact on psychology, policy, practice, and your life.”
These four touched on a myriad of topics and addressed challenges such as how research’s impact can be measured in today’s data-driven world, how scholarly incentive structures need to change, and how psychological science’s research impact can be rewarded.
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