56 Indicators of Impact

In 2011, several core members of the Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity (CSID) at the University of North Texas held a meeting during which we imagined different ways to indicate the impact of our activities. We scribbled them on the blackboard as they occurred, and the table above is a faithful rendering of what we wrote down – complete with abbreviations. The activity was meant to be fun, as well as serious. We certainly did not imagine at the time that anyone else would be seriously interested in this list. However, when we present at conferences and include this table as one of our slides, many audience members ask where it is published. The answer, it appears, is here – and there is a modified version of the same table published as a correspondence in Nature.

Included in the list are not only quantitative indicators of scholarly impact (such as the H-index), but also qualitative indicators that we might be having some impact on the world (such as meetings with, or even angry letters from, important people). We think, especially in an age of increasing demands for accountability, that we academics ought to own impact, rather than having it determined by someone else.

The list was never meant to be authoritative. Generating it was meant, originally, to spur our own imaginations about the various ways we might document the impacts of our research. We publish it now in an effort to spur your imaginations to tackle the same task for yourselves. We would love to see comments that suggest other indicators of impact, as well as comments on our own suggestions.


ID/TD, Interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary, or sometimes interdisciplinarity/transdisciplinarity
UG, Undergraduate
ppl, people 

CSID staff who contributed to authoring the list:

J. Britt Holbrook, Assistant Director (0000-0002-5804-0692)
Kelli Barr, Graduate Research Assistant (0000-0001-7048-4977)
Keith Wayne Brown, Programs Manager

CSID staff whose activities contributed to thinking about the list:

Robert Frodeman, Director
Adam Briggle, Faculty Fellow

This entry was posted in Accountability, Broader Impacts, Interdisciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, Open Access, Public Philosophizing, Transdisciplinarity, Transformative Research and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to 56 Indicators of Impact

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  2. James Gover says:

    The impact of research should be skewed toward who is paying for it. If a university funds faculty to do research, the university should be impacted by that research. If the public funds research, the public should be impacted by that research.

    • Jodie says:

      I somewhat disagree re: impact should go to who funds the research. Let’s think about who funded some of the most profound scientific discoveries of the late 19th and early 20th century?

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  10. Jeff Ollerton says:

    Much of what you list is not impact, it’s reach. Impact makes some kind of measurable/documentable difference to individuals, organisations and society at large. Reach extends your potential influence beyond academia but may not always result in impact. These are important distinctions.

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