Case studies are assigned to a single ‘Summary Impact Type’ by text analysis of the ‘Summary of the Impact’ (Section 1 of the Impact case study template) . This is an indicative guide to aid text searching and is not a definitive assignment of the impact described.
There are eight Summary Impact Types. These follow the PESTLE convention (Political, Economic, Societal, Technological, Legal, and Environmental) widely used in Government policy development. For the purposes of introductory guidance in REF impact searching, Health and Cultural impact types (otherwise subsumed within Societal) have been added to the six standard categories.
The category names have a particular meaning for the purposes of analysis. This may vary between users. For example, JISC suggests:
Political: worldwide, European and UK national and local Government directives, public body policies, national and local organizations’ requirements, institutional policy.
Economic: funding mechanisms and streams, business and enterprise directives, internal funding models, budgetary restrictions, income generation.
Societal: societal attitudes to and impacts of education, government directives and employment opportunities, lifestyle changes, changes in populations, distributions and demographics, the societal impact of different cultures.
Most REF impact case studies relate at some level to more than one type of impact. Some case studies arguably cover all eight. Tagging supports rapid initial searching that will reveal a deeper and more diverse range of impact; user perspectives on this will vary.
Some analysts would assign REF Impact case studies differently to the categorization applied here. For example, many REF impact case studies refer to spin-outs. What is the research impact of such research where it leads to a commercially valuable device of medical benefit? It has a proximate technological impact that, once developed, might have economic impact for a company and later leads to health impact for society. If the research is relatively recent and the spin-out is new then in this database the Summary Impact is tagged as technological since the economic and health impacts remain latent.
See also: http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/tools/pestle-swot/