Politics, Policy, and the UK Impact Agenda: The Promise and Pitfalls of Academic Engagement with Government
International Studies Perspectives
Oxford University Press (OUP) for International Studies Association
Reason for embargo
Currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by OUP. 24 month embargo to be applied on publication
The “Impact Agenda” of the UK Research Excellence Framework has major implications for the relationship of International Relations (IR) scholars, and social scientists more generally, to government policymaking – not just in Britain, but around the world. This article demonstrates that, at its worst, the Impact Agenda may struggle to capture the true contribution of scholarship to the public good, incentivize sub-optimal forms and modes of research, erode academics’ property rights, see atomized academics exploited or harmed by powerful institutions, and jeopardize scholars’ intellectual integrity and independence. The article also suggests, however, that these vulnerabilities can be managed by the resolution of certain key questions pertaining to scholarly conscience and expectations of reward prior to pursuing “Impact.” Given that the pursuit of international peace and societal progress through teaching and research is the reason many of us choose to become professional IR scholars, the article concludes with some reflective “tips” for achieving policy influence from early in an academic career.
The author thanks Sergio Catignani, Rob Freathy, Patrick Porter, the anonymous reviewers, and especially Helena Mills for invaluable comments/discussion. He also thanks the University of Exeter for “Impact Accelerator” funding, and the UK Economic and Social Research Council [Grant Number ES/H015906/1] for its support of an intra-PhD policy secondment.
This is the author accepted manuscript.
Awaiting citation and DOI
- Politics