Impact is created in immeasurable ways 3

November 12, 2009

In an attempt to make opposition to the "impact agenda" seem foolish, a panellist is quoted as inviting academics to raise their hand if they would want their work to have no impact whatsoever: "I have yet to see a hand," the speaker is quoted as saying. While many, if not most, academics would be delighted to find that their work had significant impact, it does not necessarily follow that they accept the narrow definition used in the policy, nor accept it as a key definition of their work's quality (let alone its validity).

There is a term in classical rhetoric for this kind of invalidation through fallacy, but, thanks to successive governments' attempts to reduce university life to nothing more than teaching, and to undermine any subject not vocational in the clumsiest sense, few can remember what it is.

David Revill, Stafford.

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