However, at the moment we are also busy with another important exercise at KTH; you have probably already heard about the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2020, that needs to be accomplished soon. Within RAE, we were asked to collect impact cases and write about the processes to enhance our impact. During the last few weeks, I had the privilege of meeting many of you at ITM to discuss impact and how to think and write about it. I must admit that I am very glad that after a few years of “soft discussions”, RAE 2020 brought us together around a tangible mission on the topic. I hope this is just the beginning of our journey.
Despite all those meetings at your department, you might still wonder what impact really is (then guess how hard it is to describe it in a few lines in a blog post…) If I give a try, I would say that it’s all about “WHY” we do our work:
- how can the society benefit from our research?
- how do we contribute to the creation of a better place to live?
- how our research is linked to industries, policy makers, and the society as a whole.
In academia, we are usually expert on describing what we do and how we do it. We are often exposed to the questions about the fancy method/model that we have developed and/or the uncertainties in our experimental studies. However, it feels a bit out of our comfort zone when somebody asks us to explain the significance of our research to the society. This leaves plenty of room for improvement.
Yes, we all realize how packed our schedule is with our daily activities. But it is important to pause sometimes, take one step back and see the big picture by thinking about WHY we do our research. So please fill up your packed schedule with more IMPACT. It will not take much time when it gradually becomes our mindset.
/Hatef Madani, associate professor EGI, and impact leader at ITM