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Research Impact: Overview

Explains bibliometrics, identifies sources of impact data and describes how to ascertain and maximise your own research impact and use the data for promotions, grant applications etc.

Research Impact

Internationally, increasing emphasis is being placed on the measurable impact of research.  In Australia, factors behind this include:

  • economic conditions and increasing competition for government funding
  • development of ERA* which measures the academic excellence of research and the view that impact measures would complement this assessment
  • general concern to improve the operation of the national innovation system
  • need to demonstrate to the public that research funds are well-spent 

*Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative from Australian Research Council (ARC)

Source: Rymer, L. (2011). Measuring the impact of research - the context for metric development. In The Group of Eight (Ed.), Go8 Backgounder (Vol. 23). Turner, ACT.

ERA 2018 will include Engagement & Impact Assessment.  This will "examine how universities are translating their research into economic, social and other benefits and encourage greater collaboration between universities, industries and other end-users of research".  In this context, the ARC uses the following definitions: 

Engagement: the interaction between researchers and research end-users (including industry, Government, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations), for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, technologies and methods, and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

Impact: the contribution that research makes to economy, society and environment, beyond the contribution to academic research.

See: http://www.arc.gov.au/engagement-and-impact-assessment 

Read all about traditional publication metrics

Any attempt to quantify the impact of research publications has merits and deficiencies. Some of these are discussed, below:

Maximise your impact - think ahead!

  • Develop a publication strategy at an early point in your research project - how, when and where will you communicate your research findings?

  • Aim to get published in high-impact, peer-reviewed sources that are esteemed within your discipline - learn more about selecting publishing outlets  

  • Find opportunities to share your research via Open Access e.g. submit your publications to an open-access repository (OAR); publish descriptions of your datasets to the University's metadata repository for discoverability.

Leiden Manifesto

Before seeking or interpreting research metrics, become familiar with these ten principles proposed for the measurement of research performance: the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics published as a comment in Nature, v520, 23 April, 2015.

  1. Quantitative evaluation should support qualitative, expert assessment
  2. Measure performance against the research missions of the institution, group or researcher
  3. Protect excellence in locally relevant research
  4. Keep data collection and analytical processes open, transparent and simple
  5. Allow those evaluated to verify data and analysis
  6. Account for variation by field in publication and citation practices
  7. Base assessment of individual researchers on a qualitative judgement of their portfolio
  8. Avoid misplaced concreteness and false precision
  9. Recognize the systemic effects of assessment and indicators
  10. Scrutinize indicators regularly and update them.