Law Research News

What does engagement and impact mean to law academics?

Research engagement and impact have become not only buzz words within the academe and government, but important standards of recognition and achievement for academics who wish to go above and beyond traditional academic roles of teaching, research and administration.

Ilana Bolingford

The Australian Government is set to enter its second iteration of Engagement and Impact (EI), alongside its regular Excellence for Research Australia (ERA) assessment of quality. It is therefore becoming more important to not only understand engagement and impact from a policy perspective but also from the perspective of academics as participants in the research and impact agenda.

As part of her PhD, Ilana Bolingford is investigating how law academics experience forms of research evaluation and performance measures within an Australian context. In particular Ilana is looking at how research engagement and impact is understood by academics and how it is experienced in their day to day working life.

The study is important not only to Law but to other Humanities and Social Science (HASS) disciplines as they tend to engage with end users differently than their counterparts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Overall, Ilana hopes her research will help law schools (and other HASS schools) understand how their researchers are experiencing research impact which may lead to better training and development resources, cultural changes, better workload practices, and development of appropriate internal university policies.

While Ilana is currently analysing data from 10 semi-structured interviews, she has thus far found:

  • that academics generally have good experiences engaging with end users and community;
  • that workload practices severely impact on their ability to translate knowledge and participate in engagement activities, especially for early career researchers;
  • that they see engagement and impact as much broader than the current definitions as defined by the Australian Government; and
  • that they see teaching and mentoring as significant experiences of impact.

Ilana will be presenting research on her findings in 2020 to several Law Schools across Australia as they prepare for the next Engagement and Impact Assessment in 2024.

Find out more

If you wish to learn more about this research, you can visit Ilana’s published research in e-prints or contact Ilana by email at

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