Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Day Two of the Canadian Association on Aging conference (CAG)

Hello, THAW PhD student Jake Andrews again, highlighting more points of interest from the CAG conference (

Impact is becoming a buzzword, with the Research Excellence Framework (REF) putting a lot of emphasis on it, and researchers working to demonstrate the practical worth of their research. On the second day of the CAG conference, Professor Thomas Scharf ofNUI Galway gave a keynote speech on the social impacts of ageing research.

In his speech, Professor Scharf discussed the increasing importance of impact, suggesting that researchers in the field of ageing should aim to make a difference, and believe that their work can make a difference. He highlighted some concrete examples of impact and how these might be produced. One case from his own work showed how research had led to a change in government policy, clear evidence of the impact of research. He also described how doing research develops the skills of the research team, thereby producing highly skilled people. The impact of this was highlighted by the fact that a member of his research team had gone on to work in the cabinet office. He showed also how impact could be made at a more grassroots level by researchers taking part in public events and engaging with broadcast media. He argued that in the field of ageing, this can lead to the challenging of long-held perceptions of ageing, within the community.

Professor Scharf concluded by admitting that impact was not easy to achieve, and that it must be underpinned by scientific excellence. His final point was that researchers are well placed to define their own impact ‘narrative’, and tell the world why and how their own work is impactful.

Written by Jacob Andrews, THAW PhD student

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