State of the Art in Assessing Research Impact

Recently returned to the States after a fascinating workshop at the Health Economics Research Group (HERG) at Brunel University, in Uxbridge (west London), UK, on the “State of the Art in Assessing Research Impact.”Thanks to Claire Donovan, who organized the whole affair, for including us (Bob Frodeman, Kelli Barr, and me) in a great workshop!

We heard excellent discussions of the Research Payback Framework, which was developed at HERG, including presentations and discussions by the developers of the framework (Stephen Hanney presented, while Martin Buxton was a lively discussant),  by users of the Payback Framework to assess research impacts of NIH programs (Jack Scott from the Madrillon Group), and people who had adapted the Payback Framework to assess the impact of non-health-related funding (such as Steven Wooding of RAND Europe).

We also heard some very interesting discussions of looking at ‘productive interactions’ between researchers and others (for instance, users of the research) using approaches developed to the European Commission’s SIAMPI project (Jack Spaapen and Leonie van Drooge gave one presentation, and Jodi Molas-Gallart and Puay Tang gave another). It was really interesting to see the ‘productive interaction’ between these two SIAMPI presentations — some interesting differences in the way each used the SIAMPI approach were highlighted and discussed.

Annette Boaz discussed the impact of research on policy Bob Frodeman and I also talked about our NSF-funded CAPR project. Each presentation was followed by comments from a discussant and then opened up to comments from all participants. Martin Buxton, Chris Henshall, John Brewer, Sarah Morton, and Claire Donovan all served well as discussants.

There was also a lively discussion of the so-called ‘impact agenda’ in the UK, in which both prongs (pitchfork imagery, anyone?) of the dual funding mechanism in the UK (the Research Councils UK, which provide grant funding for research projects, and the Higher Education Funding Council of England, or HEFCE, which provides support to higher education institutions for the purposes of research and education) are taking account of broader societal impacts as part of their funding decisions. Claire Donovan and Ben Martin gave really very provocative and thoughtful talks about using impact assessment as part of the funding decision making process (I think it would be fair to say that Claire’s talk was more ‘pro’ use of impact than Ben’s). Graeme Rosenberg, of HEFCE, was among the workshop participants, and there were also RCUK staff members in the audience. I’ll have more to say on RCUK in an upcoming post, so stay tuned! And for some interesting discussion of some related events in the UK, check out David Bruggeman’s blog.

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2 Responses to State of the Art in Assessing Research Impact

  1. Thanks for the link, Britt.

    I have followed, as best as one can on this side of the Atlantic, the development of the impact agenda, on the blog as well. Search for U.K. research assessment.

  2. Britt Holbrook says:

    I look forward to reading the rest of your posts, David.

    It was really neat to be at RCUK in Swindon to discuss impact just 2 days after the flap over AHRC and ‘the Big Society’ went public! The folks I met at RCUK are cool, in the sense of exhibiting grace under pressure.

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