An interest in the evaluation of research impact – or the influence of scientific research beyond academia – has been observable worldwide. Several countries have introduced national research assessment systems which take into account this new element of evaluation. So far, research on this practice has focused mainly on the practicalities of the different existing policies: the definition of the term ‘research impact’, different approaches to measuring it, their relative challenges and the possible use of such evaluations. But the introduction of a new element of evaluation gives rise not only to challenges of a practical nature, but also to important ethical consequences in terms of academic identity, reflexivity, power structures, distribution of labour in terms of workloads etc. In order to address these questions and the relevant needs of researchers, in this paper we propose a multidimensional model that considers different attributes of research impact: Responsiveness, Accessibility, Reflexivity, Ecology and Adaptability. This holistic, multidimensional model of evaluation, designed particularly for self-assessment or internal assessment, recognises the qualities a project has on these different scales in a broader perspective, rather than offering a simple and single numerical evaluation. This model addresses many of the ethical dilemmas that accompany conducting impact-producing research. To exemplify the usefulness of the proposed model, the authors provide real-life research project assessment examples conducted with the use of the Multidimensional Approach for Research Impact Assessment (MARIA Model).
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