The Summit of Transformations Impact

The grandly titled “Transformation Impact Summit” took place at Aston University on 20 June 2013.

Interestingly there was no programme/agenda produced prior to the even so there was little clue about how it would go.

The event was introduced and managed by Lawrie Phipps, Transformations Programme Manager.  The novel approach was taken of not focussing the day on project presentations.  Instead the day was dedicated to discussing the experiences we’ve had and reflecting on the impact that the project has had on our own ways of working and on the wider organisation.

Splitting off into self-selected groups depending on subjects of interest much of the discussion focussed on the characteristics of the Transformations projects – the challenges and benefits of such short-term, small budget research projects, particularly in comparison with conventional large projects.

Some of the issues raised about these projects were:

  1. They typically don’t have a clear start and end point.
  2. There is strong emphasis on demonstrating impact.
  3. They encourage a broader range of involvement than large projects – barriers to entry are less.
  4. They encourage people who may not otherwise have an opportunity to be involved in research projects.
  5. There was encouragement to Jisc to provide structure and clear output demands – being relatively short and small scale there are benefits of structure and clear objectives/requirements.
  6. They encourage inter-institution collaboration.
  7. There is significant impact not so much from the budget but with association with a formal project, the involvement of Jisc and need to provide evidence of progress – it provides a framework and justification to deal with issues you think are important, and have been judged worthy of support by Jisc.
  8. Debate about whether this can be regarded as ‘research’, ‘applied research’ or ‘innovation’.
  9. They provide an alternative in comparison with large projects, potentially providing good value for money – numerous projects, providing a relatively high number of opportunities for impact.

Overall there was very positive feedback regarding the nature of Transformations projects.