The issue of research and funding councils in Britain using (economic and social) impact in judging research quality may have gone quiet, but it hasn’t gone away.
Last Friday Don Braben and his group met with a group from RCUK. Neither Sir Peter Williams (Secretary of State) nor David Delpy (RCUK Impact Champion) was present, but there is no doubt that their substitutes presented official RCUK policy.
According to Don Braben’s notes, the meeting was a failure. Alan Thorpe, RCUK chair, said that there is “not a chance” of RCUK abandoning its Impact agenda, despite the fact that they could present not a shred of evidence that it did any good (and Braben’s team presented substantial evidence that it does harm).
We know there is little money around. So not simply say “There is no money, we can’t fund good research any more”, instead of introducing a new principle which will affect research funding adversely even after we return to prosperity?
Sir Tim Hunt said, “Impact is a weed that must be eradicated before its toxic spores sprout everywhere”, and Braben’s group are committed to this. Expect to hear more!