Chapter 1: Accountability in academic life: introduction to European perspectives on societal impact evaluation
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Accountability in Academic Life: European Perspectives on Societal Impact Evaluation is an edited collection dedicated to providing European perspectives on the state of societal impact evaluation at the beginning of the twenty-first century, paying special attention to the social sciences and humanities (SSH). The book explores the consequences of the trend for evaluating the quality of research in terms of the basis of the impact that it creates in society, and, we argue, that it is in SSH disciplines that the effects of societal impact evaluation are most visible. Across Europe, the implementation of systematic societal impact evaluation has taken off over the last decade, and we can already see its profound influences on the choices and decisions taken by universities, by faculties and departments, and individual researchers. This introductory chapter explains this international and contemporary context for the edited collection and explains the two-part structure of the book. Accountability in Academic Life documents and articulates the effects that the evaluation of the social impact of research is having on the ways that SSH researchers steer and regulate themselves, and ultimately on SSH research itself. Through this analysis, it also sets out to think more profoundly about the research-society nexus and its relation to research evaluation.