British Academy and Academy of Social Sciences commission Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science to analyse REF2021 Impact Case Studies

We are delighted to announce that following a competitive tender process that ended in December 2022, a team of researchers led by AcSS Fellow Professor Melinda Mills  at the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, University of Oxford, have been commissioned to lead a programme of work analysing the REF2021 Impact Case Study data for the SHAPE (Social sciences, Humanities and Arts for People and the Economy) disciplines.

The project will provide a robust evidence base on which the higher education sector and policymakers can build to articulate the value of research and its impact on society in the UK, and around the world. This work will serve as a starting point for the SHAPE community to expand the scope and reach of the evidence base.

The project will be overseen by a steering group consisting of representatives from business and universities across the UK, major funders as well as Fellows of the British Academy and the Academy of Social Sciences. The collaboration brings together the British Academy’s interests across all the SHAPE disciplines and the Academy of Social Science’s focus specifically on the social sciences sector.

The Research Excellence Framework is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education providers and the results are used to inform the distribution of approximately £2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research. The publication of impact case studies presents an opportunity for the research community to recognise the achievements and successes of research across the UK.

Professor Simon Swain FBA, the British Academy’s Vice-President for Research and Higher Education Policy, said:

It is a real pleasure to be working with the Academy of Social Sciences on this hugely exciting and important venture. Through the project the impact of the SHAPE disciplines as evidenced in the REF case studies will be properly analysed for the first time, enabling us and the communities we represent and serve to demonstrate the extraordinary, world-class impact the arts, humanities and social sciences make to the UK’s cultural, social, and economic life, here and globally.”

Dr Rita Gardner CBE FAcSS, the Academy of Social Sciences’ Chief Executive, said:

It is a pleasure to be working with the British Academy on such an important project for the benefit of the social sciences, humanities and arts communities and disciplines. Understanding the scope and scale of research impact as evidenced in the REF case studies will provide a much-needed benchmark and inform the advocacy work of both organisations.

Professor Melinda Mills MBE FBA FAcSS, Lead investigator and Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, said:

Our team is excited to apply a mixed-method approach to understand and reveal the stories and successes of the impact of research, combining a computational approach of natural language processing, machine learning and quantitative indicators with a qualitative assessment.”

Notes to Editors

1. The British Academy is the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences. We mobilise these disciplines to understand the world and shape a brighter future. We invest in researchers and projects across the UK and overseas, engage the public with fresh thinking and debates, and bring together scholars, government, business and civil society to influence policy for the benefit of everyone.

2. The Academy of Social Sciences is the UK’s national academy for academics, practitioners and learned societies in the social sciences. We promote social sciences in the UK for public benefit. We showcase, champion and advocate for the social sciences, raising awareness – in policy, business and with the public – of their immense value in understanding our contemporary human world, and helping to secure their flourishing future.

3. The Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science is tackling the most challenging demographic problems of our time. This interdisciplinary research centre is at the forefront of demographic research that impacts academia, society and policy.