Amsterdam’s Elsevier: Research and Real-World Impact

From Publishing Perspectives:

As we work to recoup some of the relevant material released to the news media near the end of our publication year, we look now at two significant research reports from Elsevier, one on research evaluation and the other on real-world impact—both increasingly pressing interests in the world of academic publication.

In the 30-page report “Back to Earth: Landing Real-World Impact in Research Evaluation,” the program carried out a survey of 400 academic leaders, funders, and researchers in seven countries about real-world impact as part of academic evaluation. Key findings include:

  • Sixty-six percent of respondents say academia has a moral responsibility to incorporate real-world impact into standard research evaluation​
  • Seventy percent say they are passionate about research that has a positive real-world impact
  • Fifty-three percent say a more holistic approach to evaluation would improve research cost-effectiveness.\
  • Fifty-one percent of respondents identified at least one serious problem with current methods of research evaluation
  • In terms of barriers to change, 56 percent of those surveyed said the “lack of common frameworks or methodologies” while 48 percent said “lack of consensus on what constitutes impact”

In this report, it’s interesting to note some of the differences, culture-to-culture in the question of how important it is for research “to aim for real-world impact.” Particularly in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, there could hardly have been a time when it was so obvious, the need that the world-at-large has for the most sophisticated, committed, and efficient research.

Nevertheless, this graphic indicates that surveyed personnel on this point came in on the affirmative side (yes, research should aim for real-world impact) at rates up to 93 percent in the United Kingdom and a low of 64 percent in the Elsevier report’s home, the Netherlands.

Another very interesting point in this report compares the view of funders and those of researchers.

While funders surveyed seem to agree with researchers that more holistic approaches are important, the funders did say that they were more in agreement with the researchers that the current system creates vested interests.

And it’s the researchers who said they were more passionate than the funders about having “real-world impact as researchers and academic leaders.”

Topping the list of barriers offered by funders to a more holistic form of research assessment was lack of resources at 53 percent, on a 53-percent par with lack of consensus on what actually constitutes impact.

Also running heavily were the lack of a common framework or methodology in holistic method of assessing research’s impact, at 49 percent. But another tie came in next, with 38 percent each of respondents saying that two more barriers are “achieving sufficient alignment between different actors” and “complexity.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives