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Open Access The research impact of broadcast programming reconsidered: Academic involvement in programme-making

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This commentary responds to an article by Melissa Grant, Lucy Vernall and Kirsty Hill in Research for All (Grant et al., 2018) that assessed the impact of broadcast programming through quantitative and qualitative evidence. In that piece, the authors attended exclusively to the uptake by, and attitudes of, end users. But viewer or social media statistics can paint a patchy picture, and feedback groups recreate an unusually attentive mode of reception. This commentary argues for an alternative or complementary emphasis on the participation of academics in producing broadcast programming for the purposes of writing REF impact templates. In highlighting the process of programme-making rather than the reception of a completed output, the commentary seeks to 'read' academic impact on the media in a more dynamic way, and speaks to the sometimes substantial and substantive involvement of academics prior to a programme's broadcast and its ultimate effects in the public sphere. Indeed, a focus on the 'front-loaded' impact by academics in the media, and on their longer-term institutional ripple effects, offers evidence that is more easily captured than establishing the attitudes of audiences. The latter are notoriously difficult to determine and, as Grant et al.'s (2018) data show, do not always do justice to the importance of media work as part of impactful academic activity.

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Keywords: IMPACT EVALUATION; MEDIA PRODUCTION; RADIO; REF TEMPLATES; TELEVISION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Engagement with research goes further than participation in it. Engaged individuals and communities initiate research, advise, challenge or collaborate with researchers. Their involvement is always active and they have a crucial influence on the conduct of the research.

    Research for All is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. Contributors and readers are from both inside and outside of higher education. They include researchers, policymakers, managers, practitioners, community-based organizations, schools, businesses and the intermediaries who bring these people together. The journal highlights the potential in active public engagement for robust academic study, for the development of involved communities, and for the impact of research. It explores engagement with different groups and their cultures, and features theoretical and empirical analysis alongside authoritative commentary to explore a range of themes that are key to engaged research including the development of reciprocal relationships, sector-specific communication and participatory action research. The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

    The journal welcomes relevant articles. See the publication homepage for details, or contact [email protected]

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