With the inaugural assessment of engagement and impact for the Australian Research Council – Excellence in Research Awards (ERA) 2018, and a continuing focus on this area of assessment some insights can be found in the UK where universities are rated on impact for their Research Excellence Framework (REF), in order to demonstrate the high quality and international standing of UK research and its contribution to society outside of academia.

Professor John Arnold

An experienced REF assessor, Professor John Arnold from Loughborough University in the UK, recently visited Griffith and presented his insights, some examples of UK impact cases for the field of Business and Management Studies, and discussed the implications around impact. These cases were evaluated on two key components; Reach and Significance, and rated on a scale between unclassified, one-star and up to four-stars for the highest rating. These criteria are described more fully later.

Dr Arnold is Professor of Organisational Behaviour from the School of Business and Economics, the School’s Director of Research Impact, and a member of the School’s Research Centre for Professional Work and Society. It is his responsibility to try and foster research impact in the School of Business and Economics, and ensure Loughborough University performs well in the next REF in 2021, where a similar star rating will apply; four-star (world-leading), three-star (internationally excellent), two-star (internationally recognised), one-star (nationally recognised) and unclassified (below nationally recognised).  

“Real effects on the real world – I think it is a plausible argument that the introduction of impact has had one of its desired effects which is to focus efforts on at least some of what we do in business schools, making a measurable difference outside academia.”


In 2014, four higher education funding bodies allocated around two billion pounds of research funding to UK universities and their aim was to support a dynamic and internationally competitive research sector that makes a major contribution to economic prosperity, national well-being and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge.

In Australia the federal government has recently adopted a similar approach, however the ERA’s impact rating scale is slightly different – with mechanisms to encourage the translation of research impacts beyond academia on a scale of; high (highly effective and well-integrated), medium (effective and integrated) and low (not effective and integrated) ratings – with the ultimate aim to improve the impact of research and its contribution to society that is similar to the UK’s purpose. Subsequently, there are important lessons that can be learned from UK’s impact cases and Professor Arnold’s hierarchy of impact indicators.

The presentation was moderated by Associate Professor Ki-Hoon Lee from the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing and Department of Business Strategy and Innovation, who began by reminding the audience about the engagement and impact assessment being included in the Australian Research Council – Excellence in Research Awards going forward.

Please click here to read the full “Research impact in the UK: Insights from a seasoned campaigner” article written by Troy Miller, Office of the Dean (Research).