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Research Impact

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 outside of academia (including governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations), for the mutually beneficial transfer of knowledge, technologies,  methods or resources.

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

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

Research Activity Evidence Table

Research librarians can help identify and search for the following types of research activity evidence:

Type of evidence Sources include:  Examples

Bibliometrics

Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar

Citations, H-index, journal metrics & quality indicators

Social media attention to researcher profile & output, eg on Twitter, ResearchGate, UTAS profile 

Altmetric Explorer, The Conversation, Google, ResearchGate, Academia, Mendeley; UTAS Google; personal blogs etc

Number/demographics of tweets & retweets, views, downloads etc; Google results ranking; content reuse/repurposing

Library holdings

WorldCat

Number of libraries & countries holding publications;  type of library; editions; translations

Media activity, coverage & response 

News/media databases eg Factiva; review sources eg Australian Reviews Online ; Google, UTAS Google

Internal & external coverage of book launches, presentations & other events; Google results ranking; public feedback

Publication data

Publishing & media directories, publisher websites 

Circulation/distribution/readership/audience; quality/reach of outlet eg book publisher

Open access  publications

UTAS/disciplinary repositories, ResearchGate, Academia, Mendeley, OA journals 

Views, downloads, reads

Data & metadata

Research Data Australia, UTAS/ disciplinary repositories, data journals

Views, downloads, reads

Grey/unpublished literature usage

Google, registries, organisation/government websites, Hansard, repositories

Clinical trials, citations in government policy reports, ABS, Parliamentary mentions

IP/patents

Scival, SciFinder Web

Citations showing contributions to innovation eg in patent applications

 

Is your research having an impact within the scholarly community?  

Evidence of scholarly impact may be demonstrated in the form of bibliometrics - traditional publication metrics.  Are your publications being cited?  Are you publishing in peer-reviewed journals with wide, international readership?  See associated tabs on Citation Analysis and Journal Impact for more information.

Is your research having an impact beyond the scholarly community

Has it influenced policy or industry? Your evidence of impact will need to describe WHAT the impact was and WHO the impact affected.  Impact evidence should show what has actually happened and not be aspirational.  Where can you find such evidence?....Recommended sources coming soon!

Maximise 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 for Research Metrics

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. 

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: