Artifice or integrity in the marketization of research impact? Investigating the moral economy of (pathways to) impact statements within research funding proposals in the UK and Australia

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A focus on academic performativity and a rationalizing of what academics do according to measurable outputs has, in the era of higher education's (HE) neoliberalization and marketization, engendered debate regarding the ‘authenticity’ of academic identity and practice. In such a context, a ‘performative’ prioritization of leveraging ‘positional goods’, such as external research funds, presents a specific challenge to the construction of academics’ identity where in being entrepreneurial they are perceived to compromise traditional Mertonian edicts of scholarship and professional ideals of integrity and ‘virtuousness’. In this article, we consider how academics sacrifice scholarly integrity when selling their research ideas, or more specifically, the non-academic impact of these, to research funders. We review attitudes towards pathway to impact statements – formal components of research funding applications, that specify the prospective socio-economic benefits of proposed research – from (n = 50) academics based in the UK and Australia and how the hyper-competitiveness of the HE market is resulting in impact sensationalism and the corruption of academics as custodians of truth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2360
Number of pages2372
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2017


  • Impact pathway
  • hype
  • research

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