Eric Jensen — Why impact evaluation matters: Measuring non-academic impact around the world

Impact evaluation in science communication is increasingly recognised as important. But there is still a substantial skills gap in the implementation of effective evaluation in science communication.

This presentation makes the case for impact evaluation in science communication, offering specific examples from around the world that show the diversity and value of robust impact measurement.

At the same time, the UK's Research Excellence Framework (REF) and other similar exercises have become a major vehicle for establishing the value of public engagement and oriented impact evaluation efforts. Australia is taking a similar approach to the UK’s REF, emphasising the urgency of interrogating these measurement approaches. 

Dr Eric A. Jensen has 18 years of experience in public engagement with science. Jensen has worked as a science engagement advisor/trainer and impact evaluation consultant for many science communication organisations globally (including in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, the United States, South Africa, Japan, China, Thailand, Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Italy). As co-PI of the PERFORM (‘Participatory Engagement with Scientific and Technological Research through Performance’) project (SwafS RIA), he conducted impact assessment research on cutting edge creative approaches to public engagement with science. He is currently working with Professor Gerber (Rhine-Waal University) on three European Commission-funded projects with a strong emphasis on science communication: RRING (rring.eu), Terrifica (terrifica.eu) and GRRIP (grrip.eu).

Author of Doing Real Research: A Practical Guide to Social Research (SAGE), Dr Jensen is a social scientist with a global reputation in public engagement evaluation methods. Dr Jensen's track record includes 13 external grants (including being co-PI on Horizon2020 SwafS RIAs and CSAs) and an extensive publication profile, featuring 40+ articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Public Understanding of Science, Frontiers in Ecology & the Environment and Nature, 6 books by publishers such as Cambridge University Press and SAGE, 16 chapters in edited volumes with publishers such as Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Springer and Palgrave, and numerous influential reports for government and non-profit organisations such as the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Department for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs, Arts Council England, the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, Association of Science & Technology Centers and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Jensen is also Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, where he founded the MSc in Science, Media and Public Policy. Jensen’s PhD at the University of Cambridge focused on science engagement relating to the therapeutic cloning controversy.