Tag: REF 2014

Higher education Green Paper

The much-trailed higher education Green Paper appeared last week. For the full document, the place to go is here and for a Times Higher summary the link is here. Immediately worth bearing in mind is that higher education in the UK is a matter for devolved government, meaning that most of what the Green Paper says relates to English universities. I say ‘most’ because, as is noted towards the beginning of the document, the Research Councils (like the MRC and the ESRC) have UK-wide remits, whilst the REF and the various editions of the RAE preceding it were carried out on a four-country basis. It would also be naive in the extreme to suggest that universities and policymakers here in Wales can ignore the England-only bits of what the Green Paper has to say; for a nice piece on the Green Paper and devolution, follow this link. And, for an insight into work ongoing in Wales on matters higher education-related, here’s a link to a current review of funding arrangements.

Fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice, to give the Green Paper its full title, proposes plenty of change. It also leaves much of the detail unfilled, and (in at least one analysis) contributes to an emerging higher education policy framework which is both vague and contradictory. One idea is for the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Office for Fair Access to combine functions within a new Office for Students. Plans for a Teaching Excellence Framework are outlined, along with variable rates of tuition fees. Ahead of the publication of the document there was some talk that REF2014 might have been the last of its kind. What the Green Paper actually says (briefly) is that dual support for research should remain, and that some version of the research excellence framework should continue and be used as the basis for the allocation of government block funding. The next REF, it is suggested, will take place by 2021. But there is obviously more to follow in this context, with sections in the document referring to the administrative burden and cost of the REF and the possible use of metrics to ‘refresh’ quality assessments in between full cycles of peer review. There is also the small matter of having to determine, if the Higher Education Funding Council for England disappears, which body should in the future assume the task of allocating quality-related funding to English universities.

Meanwhile, the sole nurse to get a mention in the Green Paper and its surrounding commentary is Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Laureate, President of the Royal Society and chair of the review into the UK’s research councils. Nurses, of the type of which I am one, have to look elsewhere for the specifics on possible future arrangements for the organisation and funding of health care professional education and for debates in this area.


Research and mental health nursing

Over on the Mental Health Nurse Academics UK blog, the group’s chair Dr Michael Coffey writes:

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) looms large for many of us. This is part of the regular round of judging of peer-reviewed research publications on which the UK government bases its decisions on distribution of institutional research funding. Decisions within Higher Education Institutions are being made around now on who is considered returnable and then whether it is strategically advantageous to submit these researchers in the exercise. For individual research careers these decisions weigh heavy. For the profession of mental health nursing there may be wider implications. Previous research assessment exercises have seen more and more evidence of mental health nurses being returned. This has undoubtedly led to an improved profile within individual universities and recognition of the contribution of research to improving the experience of people using mental health services.  There remain significant opportunities for mental health nurse researchers to contribute and bring to bear a professional view on what needs researching and how this should be conducted. We will have to wait until 2014 for an idea of what the landscape will look like in relation to mental health nursing. One thing for sure is that we need a highly engaged mental health nurse academic workforce to continue to provide high quality education and research. By doing this we can make a meaningful contribution to the development of mental health care both here in the UK and beyond.

Nursing certainly did do well in the UK’s last Research Assessment Exercise, the precursor to the REF to which Michael refers in his post. Results for all higher education institutions submitting to Unit of Assessment (UoA) 11 (Nursing and Midwifery) in RAE 2008 can be found here. In his subject overview report for UoA11, Professor Hugh McKenna of Ulster University ended with this:

In conclusion, the sub-panel members were very impressed with most of the submissions they reviewed and with the pervasive pattern of world-leading and internationally excellent research. There are many models of good practice from which developing research groupings can learn in terms of research activities, outputs, environment and esteem. It is clear that investment by Governments, funding bodies and universities has increased research capacity and developed research leaders capable of undertaking nursing and midwifery research that is internationally excellent and world leading. These funding streams need to be sustained and enhanced if the upward trajectory and momentum are to continue and if the quality differentials between the strongest and weakest departments are to be addressed.

And, when the results from the last RAE were published in December 2008, The Guardian ran an article titled Nursing research takes its place on world stage. Here it said:

Nursing, for many years medicine’s poor relation, has come of age in the 2008 research assessment exercise (RAE). Academics in the field can justifiably claim to be world-leading in terms of research. Nursing and midwifery was among the subjects with the most highly rated research in the results published today.

Heady stuff indeed, and testimony to years of hard work, strategy, and capacity-building investment. All this does, though, seem an awful long time ago. As Michael reminds us in his MHNAUK post, attention has long since turned to preparations and prospects for REF 2014.

I have written about nursing and the Research Excellence Framework 2014 on this site before, drawing attention to the workload facing members of UoA A3 (Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy) and to the challenges of demonstrating and assessing ‘impact’. So, as we hurtle towards the deadline for REF submission, in what shape does UK mental health nursing research find itself?

Readers of this blog will know that this is a question that MHNAUK is also asking, and is seeking an answer to in organised fashion. Professor Len Bowers led a discussion on this at the MHNAUK meeting held in Cardiff last March. When the group reconvened in Liverpool in June, Dr Fiona Nolan asked members for items to include in her planned survey of research activity and capacity.

Whilst we await findings from Fiona’s project in the first instance, my personal view is that there is much to celebrate in mental health nursing research but also room for development. A small number of universities are home to strong and established research groups. Leaders of these have built national and international collaborations across disciplinary and institutional boundaries. They have laboured to secure funding in open competition and to complete and publish studies with real implications for policy, services, education and practice. This is excellent progress, and I think we now need more of this type of activity across more universities. This means people (and I include myself here) extending their ambition, and perhaps being a little bolder. As an example, early next year the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme invites a first round of applications for funding. How excellent it would be for mental health nurses in the UK to be leading, and collaborating on, high-quality bids submitted there.

My more general reading of the field is that, in many universities, mental health nurse researchers are thinly spread. I’ll bet that in most of the sixty-plus universities represented at MHNAUK the number of people predominantly involved in teaching far outstrips the number predominantly engaged in research. Teaching is important – really important – but the lone researcher in a team of teachers is in a tough place indeed. As I cast an eye around the departments I am most familiar with I also wonder where the younger mental health nurse researchers are. How many mental health nurses in their 20s are studying for PhDs? If the answer is ‘not many’, then what should we collectively be doing to make research a viable, and attractive, career proposition for nurses at the start of their careers? How might we nurture a future generation of mental health nursing clinical academics?

Anyway: all is speculation until we have some evidence. The MHNAUK survey, I anticipate, will paint a more rounded and complete picture of the true state of research activity and capacity than will the Research Excellence Framework. The REF, being what it is, is subject to all sorts of inter- and intra-institutional politicking and will produce only a partial view of what’s really going on.

Using research

I very much hope that UK readers of this blog have enjoyed this year’s summer (which, at least, coincided with the early May bank holiday weekend). Right now we’ve been plunged back into autumn, or so it feels here in South Wales. Wind and rain are everywhere.

Here’s a wordcloud used during Friday morning’s teaching with students of mental health nursing, during which I shared something about COCAPP and other (past and present) research projects involving people working in the Cardiff School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies. One of the things I did was to draw students’ attention to my paper on complex trajectories in community mental health, as previously blogged about here. Unrelatedly, towards the end of Friday I also caught sight of some newly delivered reviewers’ feedback on a grant proposal on which I am a co-applicant. One of the points the reviewers made was to encourage us, as a research team, to plan to do more to get future findings into services and practice.

The first of these otherwise unconnected events was a modest attempt to close the gap between research and education. The second was a reminder of the importance of closing the gap between research and the world of health and social care. So with both experiences in mind this post is about getting research out of the hands of academics and into the hands of others who might use it: practitioners and students, service managers, policymakers, users, carers. Coming not long after my recent post on the assessment of outputs in the Research Excellence Framework, this post might also be thought of as an excursion into ‘impact’.

Within single university departments it ought to be reasonably straightforward to bring research and teaching closer together. This said, I can still clearly remember co-presenting with Cardiff colleagues at a nursing research conference in London in the late 1990s only to be told, by a student who had travelled from our own school, that she had had no previous idea who we were or that the research projects we had discussed were ongoing. That was a salutary moment, and since then I have taken opportunities to directly bring research (mine, my colleagues’, other people’s) into the modules I have led and contributed to. And of course, I am hardly alone in doing this kind of thing. But across the whole higher education sector demarcations are growing between ‘teachers’ and ‘researchers’, with universities routinely differentiating between staff on the basis of their expected roles. If researchers become less involved in teaching then the risk is run that naturally occurring opportunities for projects to be brought into the classroom, by those who are running them, will dwindle.

But if integrating research and teaching can be challenging then getting research findings out of universities’ doors for the benefit of all is harder still. In the health and social care fields the publication of findings in peer reviewed journals comes with no guarantee that these will be read, or used to inform anything which happens outside of academia. In nursing (and I imagine in many other practitioner disciplines too) this has often been seen as part of the ‘theory/practice gap’ problem. Nurses have spent a long time agonising over this, and typing some suitable search terms into Google Scholar produces some 200,000 documents (that’s the slightly obscured number circled in red in this screenshot) evidently devoted to its examination:

Nurses are not alone in having concerns of this type. The Cooksey review of UK health research funding talked about tackling the ‘translation gap’ through getting ‘ideas from basic and clinical research into the development of new products and approaches to treatment of disease and illness‘, and at the same time ‘implementing those new products and approaches into clinical practice‘. Universities are increasingly urged to do better with their ‘knowledge exchange’ activities. And, as we know, the Research Excellence Framework 2014 has introduced the idea of assessing ‘impact’.

‘Impact’ in the REF2014 Assessment framework and guidance on submissions document is defined ‘as an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia‘. It’s about research being ‘felt’ beyond universities, and assessing this. The assessed bit is important in the formal REF exercise because impact (presented using case studies, and counting for 20% of the overall quality profile to be awarded to each individual submission) will be graded using this scale:

Four star Outstanding impacts in terms of their reach and significance.
Three star Very considerable impacts in terms of their reach and significance
Two star Considerable impacts in terms of their reach and significance
One star Recognised but modest impacts in terms of their reach and significance
Unclassified The impact is of little or no reach and significance; or the impact was not eligible; or the impact was not underpinned by excellent research produced by the submitted unit.

As in the case of the assessment of outputs I am struck by the fine judgements that will be required by the REF’s experts. I suggest that one person’s time-pressed ‘very considerable’ may well turn out to be another’s ‘considerable’, or even ‘modest’.

Issues of reliability aside, the inclusion of ‘impact’ in REF2014 has got people to think, again, about how to close some of the gaps I have referred to above. For researchers in health and social care there has been new work to do to demonstrate how findings have been felt in policymaking, in services and in the provision of care and treatment. Who would object to the idea that research for nursing practice should have benefits beyond academia? But as many of the documents I identified when searching for papers on the theory/practice gap (along with newer materials on ‘knowledge exchange’) will no doubt confirm, demonstrably getting research into policy, organisations and practice can be fiendishly hard.

There are many reasons why this is so. Not all research findings have immediate and direct applications to everyday health and social care. Even when findings do have clear and obvious application, university-based researchers may not be best-placed to do the necessary ‘mobilisation’ (to use the currently fashionable phrase), including in relation to knowledge which they themselves have created. And by the time peer reviewed findings have reached the public domain, policy and services in fickle, fast-moving, environments may have moved on. In cases where we think research has made a difference there is also the small matter, in the context of the REF, of marshalling the evidence necessary to demonstrate this to the satisfaction of an expert panel. In any event research is often incremental, with knowledge growing cumulatively as new insights are added over time. Given this we should, perhaps, have rather modest expectations of the likely influence of single papers or projects.

Beyond this it is always good to hear of new ways in which wider attention might be drawn to research and its benefits, and a rich resource for people with interests in this area is the multi-author blog and associated materials on the impact of the social sciences run by the LSE. This is a suitably interdisciplinary initiative, which can be followed on Twitter at @LSEImpactBlog. I recommend it (and not just to social scientists), and as a starting point its Maximising the impacts of your research document. This sets out to provide ‘a large menu of sound and evidence-based advice and guidance on how to ensure that your work achieves its maximum visibility and influence with both academic and external audiences‘, and as such has lots of useful observations and suggestions.

A nursing view of the REF

REF 2014I haven’t seen much commentary by nurses or midwives on the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF), so I thought I’d make a start.

For those coming to this afresh, the REF has replaced the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) as the mechanism through which the quality of research conducted in the UK’s universities will be weighed up. The results will provide the basis for the recurring allocation of quality-related (QR) research funding to higher education institutions for a period of years thereafter (until the whole exercise, or a version of it, is repeated). As has been the case with the RAE, the results from the REF will also be used to rank universities and the departments located within them.

Universities will make their formal submissions to REF 2014 by the end of November this year. These will be made to one of 36 ‘units of assessment’ (UoA), each of which is part of a larger main panel. Nursing had its own UoA in RAE 2008, but this time around is subsumed within a larger UoA also including the Allied Health Professions, Dentistry and Pharmacy.

Making a submission means providing information on the vitality and sustainability of the research environment. It also means giving details of individual researchers, and up to four separate research outputs for each where an ‘output’ will typically (but not necessarily) be a paper published in a journal. For the first time the wider impact of research, judged in terms of its reach and significance beyond academia, will also be assessed.

Of these three components it is outputs which will carry the most weight, accounting for 65% of the overall quality profile to be awarded to each submission. Impact is weighted at 20%, and environment at 15%. Given their weighting, it is outputs that I want to concentrate on in this post.

Each UoA expert panel will have the task of reviewing outputs using this five-point scale:

Four star Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour
Three star Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which falls short of the highest standards of excellence.
Two star Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
One star Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
Unclassified Quality that falls below the standard of nationally recognised work. Or work which does not meet the published definition of research for the purposes of this assessment.

The Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy UoA has a Chair (Professor Hugh McKenna, an academic mental health nurse at the University of Ulster and Chair of the Nursing and Midwifery UoA for RAE 2008), a Deputy Chair (Professor Julius Sim) plus 33 members and three assessors (there to ‘extend the breadth and depth of expertise on the sub-panels as required to carry out the assessment’). Of these 38 individuals I count 13 with nursing and/or midwifery backgrounds. Collectively this panel will be required to assess the quality of all outputs which come before them, and to do so ‘with a level of detail sufficient to contribute to the formation of a robust sub-profile for all the outputs in that submission’ (I’ve extracted this statement from the Panel Criteria and Working Methods document).

Expert review is fine, but in the context of the REF I think there are problems with how this is going to work. In Annex E of the RAE 2008 Manager’s Report the total number of outputs received by each RAE 2008 UoA is given. In the table below I’ve brought together the figures for each of the separate UoAs which, for REF 2014, are combined within UoA A3:

RAE 2008 UoA Outputs submitted to RAE 2008
Dentistry 1664
Nursing and Midwifery 2851
Allied Health Professions and Studies 6240
Pharmacy 1843



Higher education institutions have already responded to a survey inviting them to indicate their intentions to return researchers to the REF, and a summary of the findings can be found here. This suggests that, across Main Panel A (which includes UoA A3 for Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy) 2% fewer people will be returned than were returned in RAE 2008. So let’s assume a uniform 2% drop in outputs across all of Main Panel A’s UoAs compared with RAE 2008, which (based on the 12,598 figure above) suggests a total return to UoA A3’s expert reviewers of some 12,346 individual outputs. That’s 12,346 journal articles, book chapters, reports to funding bodies (and so on) to be read and quality graded by a panel of 38 people. Assuming each output is considered by two panel members then each person will have around 650 items to consider, throughout the period from January to December 2014. For a cross-panel comparison, I note that this is a figure remarkably close to the 640 items the blogging physicist Peter Coles estimates will be read and reviewed by members of the Physics UoA.

That’s a whole lot of reading, reviewing and ranking. It’s also only one part of the work that REF panel members will have to do. What chance, then, that all 12,000+ individual outputs will be examined in close detail? Very little indeed. Perhaps abstracts (the 200 or so word summaries appearing at the start of published papers) will be crucial pieces of information on which assessments will be based? Or possibly papers will be sampled, with some being read in relatively greater depth than others? Who, at this stage of the process, knows? What we do know is that in undertaking their assessments of quality expert reviewers will have access to supporting information, including citation data provided via Scopus. This suggests that the number of times submitted outputs have been cited in subsequent publications is likely to have a bearing on assessments, even though the relationship between citations and research quality is a complex one. And, whilst we know from the Panel Criteria and Working Methods document that ‘No sub-panel will make use of journal impact factors, rankings or lists, or the perceived standing of the publisher, in assessing the quality of research outputs’ it may in reality be difficult for hard-pressed reviewers not to take informal account of journal titles in giving a view.

So the sheer volume of outputs presents a challenge. I also happen to think that, even with the benefit of time, achieving consistency in quality assessment is incredibly hard. Nothing in my experience tells me that different reviewers, even with similar academic backgrounds, will necessarily agree on a journal article’s status as ‘world leading’, ‘internationally excellent’, ‘internationally recognised’ or ‘nationally recognised’. These are not self-evident categories, and the distinctions to be made on the grounds of ‘originality, significance and rigour’ are fine indeed. The problem of assessment inconsistency is also magnified in the case of REF UoA A3 as this is a panel bringing together reviewers from academic fields which are remarkably diverse. Unless I have missed something important, I see no stated process for the alignment of UoA A3 reviewers to outputs based on disciplinary background. So papers by nurses reporting explorations of service user experiences using qualitative methods might (for example) be read and reviewed by pharmacists with expertise in the laboratory development of new drugs. This is odd, to say the least. So odd, in fact, that I’m now wondering whether, when panel A3 begins its work, members will do something to make sure that each output is assessed by people who really know the area within which it sits. How else can the reviews be considered ‘expert’?

That, I think, will do it for today, and thanks for reading. Perhaps I’ll say something in a later post on the ‘impact’ component of REF.

Research, open access and academic blogging [2]

In last month’s Research, open access and academic blogging post I neglected to ask the obvious question: why are the article processing charges (APCs) levied by some open access journals so high? In that post I gave the example of BMC Health Services Research, which (unless a waiver is applied for and granted) demands the sum of £1,290 before each accepted paper progresses to online publication. What, exactly, is all that money for? It’s certainly not to pay peer reviewers for their time or expertise, because if it was I would have received some additional earnings from BMC by now. Does it really cost so much to iron out the typos, format to house style and upload an article to the journal’s servers?

I pointed out in my original piece that it is neither reasonable nor sustainable to systematically expect individual academics to pay APCs. This being the case, universities and grant awarding bodies are going to have to stump up. But via this post on the Sussex (and former Cardiff) physicist Peter Coles’s In the Dark blog I was alerted to this cautionary note from the Royal Historical Society on the unintended consequences of this arrangement. For the interested reader there’s also this RHS President’s letter on the same. The argument goes like this: if universities are going to be paying the APCs associated with individual open access articles then academic freedom will be eroded, as the final decisions on which publications are to be financially supported and which are not will be made by budget-holding managers.

The problem, then, is not with open access per se but with the extortionate costs currently associated with some versions of it. These need to come down, and quickly.

Research, open access and academic blogging

Martin Webber, social work academic at the University of York, is inviting discussion on why researchers should blog. Martin will be drawing on what people say at a seminar he’s giving early next month as part of a York Social Research in the Digital Age series.

So, why indeed? Here are some personal reflections, on blogging and also more generally on the process of writing in an internet-connected world. These I’m basing on my (very) preliminary experiences on this site, some thinking done over the last couple of days, and an awareness of how academic practice is changing.

Word cloud 28.01.13First, researchers might want to blog because this is a very direct, free-to-access, way of communicating. This is especially important in disciplines in which most research papers are published in journals which sit behind paywalls. In applied areas like my own (mental health nursing, systems and services), a blog can be one way of connecting with important audiences (practitioners, policymakers, managers, service users) likely to lack the necessary subscriptions

This does not mean that academic blogging is therefore redundant in disciplines where all or most research outputs are publicly available, and for free. To say why this is so, I probably need to say something about open access. Here in the UK a big shift is taking place in favour of publishing in journals which are both peer reviewed and free to the reader. Check out, for example, the 246 titles currently offered online by BioMed Central. Plenty of longer-established publishers are now also offering open access options to authors submitting to their titles. Increasingly this means that, within single issues of journals, open access content sits side-by-side with subscription or one-off payment content.

A major driver behind these developments is the Finch Report, which appeared last year. This recommended open access as the preferred publishing model for the future, particularly in the case of papers reporting research supported by public funds. Making further progress along the open access route, however, means finding new ways of covering the costs. In the traditional model authors pay nothing to see their papers in print, the costs of publishing being recouped via institutional (or individual) subscriptions or from payments made by readers of single articles. Publishers like BioMed Central do things differently, requiring authors (unless they secure waivers) to pay an ‘article processing [or publishing] charge’ (APC) for each peer reviewed and accepted paper. APCs can be hefty. For example, the current submission checklist for the journal BMC Health Services Research indicates that it usually levies an APC of £1,290 on each accepted paper. The Times Higher Education reports that in the majority of open access papers published in the new social sciences and humanities journal Sage Open, the APC has been paid by individual authors. I’m not sure that’s either fair or sustainable. In the future, financial support for what Finch and others have called ‘gold [APC] open access’ will surely have to be provided by funders and universities (presumably using money currently being used elsewhere). Government and charitable funding bodies will require applicants to include in their bids the costs of open access publication, and universities will sign up as members of organisations such as BioMed Central with the aim of waiving or reducing the costs associated with individual article processing.

There are other ways of making available, freely and publicly, the full text of published research outputs. Publishers’ policies in this area differ, but under the terms of their copyright agreements many allow versions of accepted papers to be uploaded to institutional repositories for access, at no cost, by interested readers. The best deals allow authors to deposit post-peer review versions of papers as soon as they have been accepted for publication. Other deals allow the same, but after an elapsing of time to make sure that readers wanting immediate access have to obtain paid-for versions. The text in these author-own manuscripts is the same as that appearing in journals’ versions, but the papers lack the ‘added value’ of volume and issue details, layout and formatting as per journal house style, and so forth. This ‘green open access’ model is one I have been making use of in this blog, via links to post-peer review versions of papers saved in the Cardiff University ORCA repository. Check out my Enduring posts page, which has examples of posts and linked papers on wicked problems, work and roles in mental health systems, and research ethics and governance.

So if the gathering pace of the open access movement means that research papers will be more likely to be publicly and freely available via ‘gold’ and ‘green’ routes in the future, does this reduce the need for research blogs? Not at all, in my view. Blogs can be vehicles for making clear the connections between multiple papers and projects, giving researchers opportunities to write in-the-round overviews of cumulative bodies of work. They can also help contextualize research, and unpack the detail of full-text papers irrespective of whether these are open access or paid-for. In this way blogs can perhaps help translate ideas, promote uptake and increase the use of findings. This, I think, is part of the task researchers now face to maximise what the Research Excellence Framework (REF) refers to as ‘impact’. As an aside, I am reminded in this context of the excellent material on using social media to promote research available at the LSE’s Impact and the Social Sciences blog. If anyone working in the health and social care fields has examples of blogs, tweets and the like being successfully used to promote impact outside of academia, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like to hear more.

Blogs are also interactive, allowing fast-moving, two-way, communication between writers and readers via the use of the ‘comments’ function. This is very different from traditional academic publishing, which can be distinctly one-way. This said, there are some journals (like the BMJ) which directly encourage readers’ online responses to published papers, and which host journal content and supplementary material (blogs included) at single sites. Further, whilst publishers will often accept study protocols in their journals they are less keen on progress reports. The immediacy of blogging offers an option here. For instance, Martin Webber on his site has some excellent examples of using his blog to keep interested parties aware of his ongoing projects.

To sum up what has turned into a lengthier-than-expected post. Martin Webber asks why researchers should blog. Based on my (admittedly brief) excursion into the genre, my response is that a more appropriate question might actually be, ‘Why are researchers not blogging as a matter of course?’ I have also taken this opportunity to think, in a more general way, about blogging in the context of changing academic practice. Blogs are a way of sharing research ideas, progress and findings, and can be used to wrap around and support full-text open access content. They have the potential to promote engagement between research producers, and research consumers. They allow connections to be made, and they encourage interaction. What’s not to like?