• Rene Brauer Visiting Scholar, Karelian Institute University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland;
  • Mirek Dymitrow University of Gothenburg, Department of Economy and Society – Unit for Human Geography
  • Filipe Worsdell University of Surrey, Department of Strategy and International Business Surrey Business School
  • John Walsh Independent Scholar




research impact, unintended consequences, sociology of science, evolutionary thinking


Aim. This paper elucidates how the emergent impact agenda is slowly but surely changing the normative framework of modern Western science.

Method. The paper investigates conceptually the implications of the impact agenda for the research process. We outline a chronology around the evaluation regime of research impact and identify the causal mechanisms that change the disciplinary structure of the research ecosystem. We draw upon a sociological model of scientific knowledge production to contrast and discuss how impact facts mimic the process of scientific knowledge production but are geared towards a different end.

Results. Our findings indicate that an explicit emphasis on societal contribution not only propositions a different purpose of research, but also changes the logic of research along its entire construction. The impact logic mimics the creation of scientific facts; nevertheless, as it is geared towards a different end, it hermetically seals itself from criticism as any form of scrutiny would otherwise undermine its own legitimacy.

Conclusion. We conclude that only explicit acknowledgement of the adverse potential of the impact agenda can maintain science’s benefit to society. We argue that an emphasis on the advancement of knowledge, as opposed to impact, can maintain innovation and preempt social tension. The contribution of this paper lies in identifying the societal influence of the scientific ideal of truth, and articulating the unintended consequences of the impact agenda as the emerging impact or starve paradigm.


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Author Biographies

Rene Brauer, Visiting Scholar, Karelian Institute University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland;

Rene Brauer is a visiting scholar at the University of Eastern Finland and research impact officer at the University of Hull. His research interests lie within the sociology of scientific knowledge, as well as the epistemology, ontology and axiology of research impact.

Mirek Dymitrow, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economy and Society – Unit for Human Geography

Mirek Dymitrow is a researcher at Lund University and visiting scholar at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. His research interests include conflicts from a socio-cultural perspective, the problematic of knowledge production, as well as the dynamics of social deprivation and unsustainable behaviors.

Filipe Worsdell, University of Surrey, Department of Strategy and International Business Surrey Business School

Filipe Worsdell is a teaching fellow at the University of Surrey. His research interests lie in the subject of corporate integrity and psychology of individual discretion.

John Walsh, Independent Scholar

John Walsh is an independent scholar, and his research interest revolve around the evolutionary anthropology of cultural institutions, and how it relates to sustainability.


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How to Cite

Brauer, R. ., Dymitrow, M., Worsdell, F., & Walsh, J. (2021). WHAT IS THE RESEARCH IMPACT OF (THE IDEAL OF) SCIENTIFIC TRUTH?. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 12(2), 113–136. https://doi.org/10.15503/jecs2021.2.113.136