Mapping the societal impact of SSH: A literature review

David Budtz Pedersen, Jonas Følsgaard Grønvad, Rolf Hvidtfeldt

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


The scientific and political agenda for the societal impact of social science and humanities (SSH) is not easily summed up. SSH is a heterogeneous field that consists of researchers with different motives, practices, and research styles working with different sectors in society. Currently, there is no agreement on what is the best definition or the superior methodology for assessing impact and knowledge exchange activities in SSH. Rather, several more or less overlapping frameworks for understanding, mapping, and evaluating SSH research impact compete for pole position. The impact agenda in SSH spans over several different literatures and institutions discussing various aspects of the societal relevance and uptake of research. As such, the literature on impact assessment and impact-stimulating initiatives is characterized by wide semantic diversification, including the often overlapping or synonymous use of concepts such as knowledge brokering, dissemination, co-creation, research partnerships, external engagements, research outcomes, uptake, mobilization and impact. To create a better overview of the diverging literature, this paper aims to map both the scientific and political literature regarding the relevance, impact and uptake of SSH knowledge in society order to create a more substantial understanding of the current policy and academic agenda surrounding SSH. The paper addresses the following questions: How can we understand the societal relevance e.g. broader impact, social impact or public value of SSH research, and how might we meaningfully measure it? These questions are addressed through a systematic review of the current Scientific literature combined with a survey of reports and policy papers from European research institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventRESSH 2017: 2nd International Conference on Research Evaluation in the Social Sciences and Humanities - University of Antwerp, Campus Middelheim, Antwerp, Belgium
Duration: 6 Jul 20177 Jul 2017
Conference number: 2


ConferenceRESSH 2017
LocationUniversity of Antwerp, Campus Middelheim
Internet address


  • societal impact of research
  • Impact assessment
  • Research Evaluation
  • Systematic review
  • Evaluation Methodology
  • evaluation design


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