An important feature of contemporary science policy is the focus on governance through performance measures. The past three decades have seen increased interest worldwide in the uptake, use and impact of scientific research. This interest is fuelled by the new accountability regimes of public funders of science, as well as growing calls from civil society and the general public for science that makes a difference.

The demand to demonstrate research impact – at all levels of the science system (systemic, institutional and programme levels) – has generated a new body of emerging scholarship on frameworks and methodologies to develop relevant and robust quantitative measures and qualitative approaches of social impact (including societal, economic and cultural impact). Research in this area focuses on making a contribution to this growing international body of knowledge, and specifically on developing case studies from the African continent.