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What does the term ‘impact’ really mean in the research community? This was the discussion topic for a panel of speakers at a recent Research Impact Spotlight event hosted by Digital Science.

According to Jonathan Adams, chief scientist at Digital Science, there are many perspectives related to ‘impact’ that need to be examined, including greater expectations of research, increased competition for funding, the UK’s 2014 Research Excellence Framework, more non-traditional outputs, new data tools, and social media metrics.

Panelist Ben Goldacre, a doctor, academic, campaigner, and writer, is working to ensure that policy decisions are informed by research findings, as he does not feel this occurs often enough. He discussed how impact assessment is skewed too heavily towards conventional research outputs, and not enough to other methods by which real benefit can be delivered.

Panelist Liz Allen, head of evaluation at The Wellcome Trust, feels that funders need to evaluate the impact of research so they can make more informed funding decisions. She also raised concern that much discussion about impact has focused on new tools and technologies, and to get the most out of these tools, a better understanding is needed of where they measure what counts, or only count what can be measured.

Both Goldacre and Allen agreed that to get a true picture, it is necessary to look beyond academic journals. Digital Science, The Wellcome Trust, and other organizations, are currently developing a new taxonomy for contributor roles called Project CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) – this is a trackable system that provides transparency for contributions to scholarly published work and documents the real contributions to a research paper.

For more information about the Research Impact Spotlight event, visit

Content originally published on Learn more about Interfolio’s acquisition of Data180 here.