Research Impact Officer, Brunel University London
What are your main work activities in your current role?
I lead on the development of processes supporting the establishment, dissemination and monitoring of research impact for REF2021 in the College of Business, Arts, and Social Sciences at Brunel University London. This REF, like the last one, requires the submission of impact case studies which showcase the positive impact of academic research on the world outside academia, e.g. the society, environment, or economy. I manage the case studies of the College, and offer training and support to the academics writing them. This includes many one-on-one meetings with academics, research support staff, and Deans; editing of case study drafts; planning of training series; keeping up-to-date with developments regarding research impact both for the REF and in a broader context; and engaging with research and impact strategies in general.
What route have you taken to reach your current role?
I received the job offer a few months before I graduated from Birmingham, so went straight from my PhD to my current role. The role echoes two projects I have helped create as a student and I built onto that by reading up (a lot) on research impact, the REF, higher education policy, and current trends in academia and having informal discussions with various people in similar roles. The combination of these things is what ultimately shaped the route to my current role.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job and what do you find most challenging?
What I find most enjoyable about my job is that I get to work with many different academics from various fields, ranging from the Business and Law School to Economics and Finance to Arts & Humanities (to name just a few departments whose case studies I oversee) and learn about their research. This wide variety of academic research allows me to get very tactical and come up with different impact strategies to discuss the best way forward for each academic depending on their field of research. That kind of creativity and strategic thinking, and supporting academics in the process, is something I really enjoy. At the same time, it’s also the most challenging aspect – I really do work on the academic side of things and need to make sure that what we do is REF-eligible (and the REF is linked to so many important things). It is challenging but also rewarding!
What advice would you give to a current PhD interested in working in this field?
This role requires me to have a very good understanding of academic research and current developments in HE, so anyone looking at similar roles, I would advise to stay engaged with these things, both by reading relevant news outlets (e.g. Wonkhe, the LSE Impact Blog, THE, and updates from UKRI in general) and by talking to people in those roles.
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