QUT-CSIRO Research Collaboration on New Approaches to Measuring Research Impact
Society must balance scientific research with many other priorities and investments, which leads to an important question: which research, development and innovation-related investments have meaningful impact, and which ones fail to deliver real-world benefits?
This question is more nuanced and complicated than it first appears. It can be difficult to objectively assess research impact, and the benefits of a new technology or innovation are often indirect and sometimes even intangible. As elusive as these answers may be, it is nonetheless an important discussion that will become increasingly significant as society juggles investment priorities in the future.
QUT’s Institute for Future Environments and CSIRO are collaborating on a three-year project to make progress on several challenging questions facing both organisations as they change how they manage and measure research impact. These questions include:
- How does an organisation’s culture shape how it approaches research impact assessment?
- Traditional research impact metrics have tended to focus on financial outcomes (e.g., cost-benefit analyses) or the number of scholarly publications. How can we measure the social impact that research might have? For example, can we analyse what people are saying about the research, and measure how positive or negative their tone is when discussing it?
- What is the role of institutional governance in impact assessment? Where and how is the concept of impact connected to an organisation’s strategic and operational plans?
- How can Big Data and high-end data analytics change the nature of research impact measurement?
- What are the determinants and environmental factors — for example, early career training or mentoring — that produce researchers whose work has impact?