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BPS Policy Unit

Planning for Research Excellence

26 November 2018 | by BPS Policy Unit

Psychological research has real potential to make a difference – whether that is to society and the economy, to policy making, or to the quality of our research, methods, and theories.

But, in order to make that difference, it needs to be excellent and it needs to reach the right audiences.

Two new guides from the BPS can help you do just that.

Impact has increasingly become a key feature of research. Under the Research Excellence Framework (REF) it is one of three core elements (together with research outputs and the research environment).

Regardless of the REF however, ensuring that your research makes a difference should be a consideration throughout the whole research process. 

A core part of supporting research that has impact is to include it as a core part of Doctoral training, as Doctoral research makes up a substantial proportion of research activity in academic departments. As such, increasing its potential for impact can help us significantly build Psychology’s evidence base.

In light of this the Society has just published an extremely useful guide for doctoral programme providers and students:

The guide emphasises the range of potential benefits, not least in terms of enabling doctoral students to develop skills in effective knowledge transfer and communication to public and professional audiences who want to hear what the research tells us and what effect, change or benefit can it have.

In addition, the Qualitative Methods in Psychology Section has recently published its own guidelines aimed at supporting research to write for the REF 2021. 

Intended as being a pragmatic tool for researchers and originating from anxieties regarding the assessment of qualitative research in the REF, the guide sets out the key considerations research should make when thinking about REF-able research.

These include:

  • writing for the REF criteria (rigour, significance and originality)
  • positively conveying the strength of the research
  • thinking about how and who will assessment your work
  • avoiding overlap with other publications
  • having a REF publication strategy

These two documents are part of a suite of materials that the Society, under its Research Board, will be releasing to support our academics and researchers in the lead up to REF 2021.

I will be frequently blogging about the REF, announcements, BPS activity and so on, so it would be useful to know what else you think we should be doing, what concerns still need to be addressed etc. Please do get in touch.

Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard

Head of Research and Impact


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