Beyond impact to engaged research and publication in HSS

Blog
May 18, 2022
Author(s):
Shelina Adatia, PhD Candidate, University of Ottawa

As part of the Congress Career Corner series, Kath Burton of Routledge Journals (Humanities, Media and the Arts) and Vicky Gardner of Taylor & Francis facilitated a workshop entitled Beyond Impact to Engaged Research and Publication in HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences). Outcomes of their workshop included identifying how your research engages with real-world problems, defining publishing objectives for meaningful research impact within and beyond academia, determining when and how to publish your work for maximum impact, and viewing your work from the perspective of multiple external stakeholders. 

Kath noted that “impact tends to be talked about after the fact”; however, she and Vicky encouraged attendees to embrace the ‘messiness’ of the research and publishing pathway in order to enrich research impact through publication. As part of a short video shown at the start of their session, Kath and Vicky’s central thesis was presented:  

While HSS scholarship advances community life, and promotes diversity and inclusivity of scholarship, publication options that fully accommodate scholars’ publication ambitions aren’t always available. Impact — the who/what/why of research design — is not always fully embedded in the research process across the lifetime of a project.  

For instance, “If you work with First Nations, consider how you interact with First Nations data,” urged Kath. She encouraged attendees to reflect on whether the breadth of their scholarship forms part of project evaluations or research publications. After all, as Vicky shared, "HSS research addresses complex issues and responds to some of the world's biggest challenges." 

A key challenge for scholars is measuring the true value or contribution of their research — that is, going beyond citations, grant funding, and publication counts. Kath thus encouraged "measuring what we value, not valuing what we measure" while Vicky shared with the audience the HuMetricsHSS initiative (the Humane Metrics Initiative). 

Both Kath and Vicky stressed the importance of understanding your current networks of influence, being aware of where your research holds influence, and knowing where you as a researcher have influence. They equally encouraged accountability and an open process for engaged research and publication. Examples of what this could look like in practice are including diverse voices (e.g., participants and leads), articulating shared values and goals from the outset, and embracing the complexities or ‘messiness’ of working with various stakeholders and the potential failures that could come with that. In terms of infrastructure for engaged research and publication, Kath and Vicky discussed podcasts as a mode for sharing early learnings, community-designed platforms, and Humanities for All.

Finally, the key questions Kath and Vicky recommended asking as part of designing one’s own engaged research and publication model included the following: Who will use this research? Why? What will they do with it? What’s the outcome? What changes would they like to see? All of the resources from the session can be accessed here.             

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