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This project for the University of Cambridge and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) assesses the impacts of arts and humanities research at the University of Cambridge. Evidence from interviews, a survey of research staff and detailed case studies indicates that these disciplines already have a broad range of impacts. Many of these can be observed and described, while others are harder to define. This existing level of impact by the arts and humanities merits wider recognition, though continued efforts by the University and the AHRC remain worthwhile to ensure that it is maintained and, where possible, increased.

The study used and adapted the “Payback Framework”, which other universities can use to assess arts and humanities research impact. Benefits of research include:

  • Academic impacts: knowledge creation that increases understanding, challenges existing understanding or establishes new research trends; also the creation of resources for further research.
  • Policy impacts: research that informs new or revised policies (local, national or international), such as school curricula or professional guidelines, or that influences policy makers to make informed decisions.
  • Impacts on practice: changes in professional behaviour such as shifts in legal interpretation and judgements, informed by research.

Wider societal and economic impacts: public knowledge creation, preservation of heritage including objects, buildings and languages at risk, leisure and entertainment such as editions of literary works, theatrical productions; economic impacts such income from fees and grants, revenues from publications and exhibitions; and by training productive individuals whose activities are commercially competitive.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction and context

  • Chapter Two

    What are the impacts of arts and humanities research?

  • Chapter Three

    Approach and methodology

  • Chapter Four

    Impacts in detail: cases

  • Chapter Five

    Shared responsibilities and next steps

  • Appendix A

    List of interviewees

  • Appendix B

    Interview protocol for University of Cambridge interviewees

  • Appendix C

    Interview protocol for external interviews

  • Appendix D

    Survey questions

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the University of Cambridge and the Arts and Humanities Research Council and was conducted by RAND Europe.

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