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Beyond REF 2014: the impact of impact assessment on the future of information research.

Marcella, Rita; Lockerbie, Hayley; Bloice, Lyndsay


Hayley Lockerbie


The importance of demonstrating value for money in terms of academic research beyond the walls of institutions grows stronger as demonstrated by the inclusion of impact assessment in the 2014 REF (Research Excellence Framework) exercise for UK higher education institutions (HEIs). To understand if such focus is influencing the library and information science (LIS) discipline, this paper reports a critical examination of impact case studies submitted to REF 2014 under the Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management Unit of Assessment. Content analysis was conducted on 25 case studies submitted by 14 institutions, establishing the methodologies, impacts, beneficiaries, published outputs and corroborative evidence reported. The implications of impact assessment on future LIS researcher behaviour, in terms of research conceptualisation and design, were explored through nine qualitative telephone interviews. While individual researchers did not anticipate their behaviour to change due to the introduction of impact assessments, there are anticipated changes across the discipline including a greater focus on engaging with stakeholders and research beneficiaries at early stages of research design and an emphasis on mixed methodologies to maximise the power and consequences of research results.


MARCELLA, R., LOCKERBIE, H. and BLOICE, L. 2016. Beyond REF 2014: the impact of impact assessment on the future of information research. Journal of information science [online], 42(3), pages 369-385. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 8, 2016
Online Publication Date Mar 7, 2016
Publication Date Jun 1, 2016
Deposit Date May 26, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2016
Journal Journal of information science
Print ISSN 0165-5515
Electronic ISSN 1741-6485
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 42
Issue 3
Pages 369-385
Keywords Research Excellence Framework; Impact; Impact assessment
Public URL


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