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Research and Impact

Psychology Research Excellence Framework 2014 Impact Analysis

11 April 2017

The report summarises the outcomes of an analysis of published Research Excellence Framework data on 315 impact case studies.

Of the categories of impact type used by Higher Education Funding Council for England(HEFCE) (cultural, economic, environmental, health, legal, political, societal and technological), health and societal dominate the case studies submitted to UoA A04.

However, this has caused concern in the psychological research community that the HEFCE classifications are arguably superficial and do not necessarily reflect the actual type of impact achieved (i.e. based on the topic of the research rather than the impact itself).

Re-analysis of the case studies focused on recoding them into core areas (biological, cognitive, social and developmental psychology) and applied (clinical, counselling, educational, forensic, health, neuropsychology, occupational, and sport and exercise).

Many case studies were identified as interdisciplinary (combining multiple core and applied areas).

  • The most commonly coded areas were identified as cognitive, health and social (with cognitive and social each associated with nearly 40 per cent of case studies).
  • Less commonly coded areas were counselling, neuropsychology, occupational, and sport and exercise.

Analysis for the applied areas shows that case studies that draw on multiple areas (health psychology and forensic psychology) have higher predicted impact.

Predicted impact is lower for other applied areas (notably sport and exercise and neuropsychology) after controlling for size and strength of submissions.

However, this observation rests on a small number of case studies and should be interpreted with caution.

In conclusion, the impact of psychological research submitted to Research Excellence Framework 2014 draws widely from the core areas of the discipline and most applied areas, with little evidence that impact grades vary according to the areas of psychology that a case study draws on.

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