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Punch drunk on Research Impact: a critical analysis of textual power politics

Punch drunk on Research Impact: a critical analysis of textual power politics

Patterson, Jennifer ORCID: 0000-0002-8254-7602 (2013) Punch drunk on Research Impact: a critical analysis of textual power politics. Power and Education, 5 (1). pp. 76-86. ISSN 1757-7438 (doi:

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Defined by Research Councils UK as ‘the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy’, impact is a measure of achievement. Academics are required to predict impact as part of the process of obtaining funding for research, so it is now a measure of the value of research. This article outlines the linguistic and etymological origins of the word ‘impact’ in order to highlight and investigate the power basis of meanings embedded in a word that tends to be used as if it were a neutral term. The article employs a narrative style in order to investigate for whom, particularly within the academic world, impact functions. It discusses how the power politics in play relate to the ways in which funding operates in higher education and the ways in which that is governed by medical science and industry world views, which have become part of managerial institutional culture. It locates the shock of ‘impact’ as a symbolic marker of a postmodern crisis, a collision point within universities between positivist managerial values, science-and-technology-based funding frameworks, research and teaching, which is largely ignored. Impact reproduces elitist structures that could ultimately damage the values held within higher education as communities of learning and practice.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Published in Power and Education, Volume 5, Issue 1 - Special Issue: Changing the Discourse of Education. Guest Editors: Heather Piper, Jerome Satterthwaite and Pat Sikes.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Research Councils UK, RCUK, research impact
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Education
School of Education > Department of Education & Community Studies
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:24

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