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Emerald launches new campaign

Emerald refreshes its commitment to advancing the research impact agenda and calls for sector wide action in its new ‘Are you in?’ campaign.

Emerald launches new campaign
Tony Roche: “We are at a time where research needs to contribute to societal change more than ever, moving beyond the echo chambers of academia.”

Emerald Publishing has relaunched its ‘Impact Manifesto’, pledging six commitments for change that will advance ongoing debates around academic culture, incentives, and research evaluation.

In refreshing its Manifesto, the publisher is calling for sector-wide action, bringing together multiple parties to break down the barriers to change, including funders, policymakers, research users, research and academic institutions, publishers, and service providers. Since its launch earlier this month, the campaign has received more than 350 signatories from academics, researchers and institutions.

Emerald was one of the first publishers to champion the need for change, launching its original Impact Manifesto and becoming a signatory of DORA in 2018. Since then, it has actively challenged outdated practices that take focus away from real world impact and responded to the sector’s desire for change by launching initiatives to drive research impact, says the publisher.

Despite progress, the pandemic has led to a stalling in the sector’s ability to drive change, highlighted in the findings of its 2021 Time for Change survey. The global report, now in its third year, surveyed more than 2,000 researchers worldwide and revealed that an increasing number of academics are returning to citations and Impact Factors as the main way research quality is evaluated (70% in 2021 compared to 58% in 2019), and that there was a reduced focus on research having a measurable change in practice, policy or behaviour (from 59% in 2019 to 25% in 2021).

With the report concluding that incentives and structural change are at the root of the issue, Emerald is now calling for collective action across the research sector to break down barriers that hold back research from having meaningful impact.

Tony Roche, who became Emerald publishing chief executive in October 2021, commented: “We are at a time where research needs to contribute to societal change more than ever, moving beyond the echo chambers of academia.

“Individually, and with partners, we have taken steps in the right direction through our Real Impact Awards, signing DORA, setting up a Real Impact Advisory Board and launching impact literacy tools to support healthy practice and develop best practice in planning and finding new ways to bring researchers and non-academic beneficiaries together. Alongside our partners in the research and knowledge exchange communities, we share the same ambitions for the value of research and its impact on society. Yet, we recognise that the journey to real world impact requires wider changes across the research ecosystem. We are just one voice, for real change to happen, it can only be achieved by the sector, including publishers, coming together to deliver collective actions.”

Emerald is calling upon the community to unite to build shared action plans, asking all interested parties to get behind the six commitments, developed in conjunction with its Impact Advisory Board, by signing up to the Manifesto.

In recent years, Emerald has heard from researchers that one of the main challenges to advancing the research impact agenda is the complexity of sharing best practice and the differing pace of change across the world, making sector wide action disparate and siloed. As a potential solution to this, the ‘Are you in?’ campaign seeks to share approaches, learnings, and case studies of those already active in driving change via its dedicated microsite whilst encouraging the community to get involved to ensure collective action is coordinated, inclusive and can ignite broader opportunities.

Roche continued: “By calling the initiative ‘Are you in?’ we are encouraging wider participation, including researchers, policy makers, funders, publishers and others, to share knowledge and experience of progress that will collectively ignite real change. This will be followed by a series of podcasts and other co-creative/collaborative activities that we hope will bring together people and galvanise positive collective action.”

The six commitments of the manifesto focus on championing alternatives to traditional metrics, finding new formats and channels to disseminate to and engage a wider audience, developing more equitable and accessible ways to publish research, highlighting and rewarding examples of research that is driving real change, co-designing services that help researchers and research offices to develop healthy practices and building stronger partnerships and networks.