According to the Oxford English Dictionary, impact is defined as having:
a marked effect or influence (on something or someone).
In the case of academic publishing, the purpose of research is to establish a better understanding of methods within the field or across disciplines.
To assess the influential power of research, it is vital to identify effects to economy, society, culture, public policy, the environment, health, or quality of life outside of academia.
Demonstrating the impact of research within social sciences and humanities (SSH) has never been more prevalent.
Indeed, institutions and funders are all interested in monitoring and assessing the quality and impact of research within SSH. Therefore, impact helps to inform researchers so that they can get the most out of their publishing journey.
Why assess the impact of SSH research?
To understand how well their work is faring i.e. what is their most notable piece of research to include in future job applications? Can they use this to gain tenure?
To assess what and where authors are publishing for budgetary reasons, or to assess which departments are publishing the most research.
To decide where they should be reading, and whether what they are reading is of value. To assess what others are saying about the research or article.
To provide evidence that they are funding work that is impactful and relevant.
Open access allows unhindered readership far beyond academia. If more researchers in the Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences departments published their work openly, this would make learning more accessible to those outside of academia. In turn, this could lead to further engagement, discussion, citations, education, and future findings.