Does ‘frivolous’ academic research have any value?

Readers may not be surprised to know that “celebrity does not further careers in academic research” according to Paul Cotrell, University College Union in an article this week on the BBC website. The article is about whether there is any value to ‘frivolous’ academic research in the light of proposed changes to research funding which will be assessed on the impact of researchers’ work in social, economic and cultural terms. The article argues that it is the trivial findings from long-term broader research studies that can often be picked up out of context by journalists.

We know from our own experience that the media will happily seize on one aspect of a press release – usually the frivolous stuff – to the detriment of the serious underlying message so it can be difficult to get your core ‘impact’ message across. We keep persevering though, because at Policy Press we have always believed that ensuring research makes a difference in the real world is vitally important.

We’d love to hear your views on the criteria for awarding public research money so please do add your comments.

Julia Mortimer, Assistant Director

Visit The Policy Press website at

1 Response to “Does ‘frivolous’ academic research have any value?”

  1. 1 Jo Phoenix October 3, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Of course the questions that the impact factor weighting begs are more than just about frivolous research. What about pure theoretical work? What about assessing the impact of critical research? Ah, it’s a brave new world Miranda…

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