Measuring Research, Making a Difference
One of the arguments that the Beyond Impact project proposal made was that funders might make researcher engagement with the impact agenda more appealing if researchers felt they had stake in defining what the important impacts of their research were. David Baker from CASRAI he brought up an idea that could both help to engage researchers, and assist institutions and funders in gather more information on research outputs and their impact; the personal impact dashboard.
David’s concept was a space on the researcher’s desktop where they could drag and drop evidence of research outputs and impact. These might be draft papers, important datasets, or news items from the web. Crucially they could include both formally published objects, but also items that were still in preparation. If the researcher gets to collect these objects, and in the process gets the assistance of a program in helping to organize them, then not only is there much more information being collected, and more diverse information, but also real information on what is coming down the pipeline.
Such a tool needs to deliver for the researcher on the ground to get adoption. This is a message we have learnt over and over again in terms of new research tools. But this can be addressed by both helping the researcher to organize their own material, and also collect their own evidence, giving them a sense of ownership. Such a tool could also be a great source for automatic CV generation. If it tracked the relation between grants and outputs it could be used for generating final reports.
There are also real benefits for institutions and funders, who will then have more standardised information flows coming to them which can be re-purposed and aggregated for reporting and monitoring. Such a system has an enormous potential in the light of standardised reporting approaches being developed amongst US government funders and the desire for efficient reporting into national assessment schemes. To realise the potential benefits it will be crucial to develop reporting standards that can spread across institutional and national boundaries and CASRAI is an organization that works specifically on these issues. They are currently working on prototypes for such a dashboard and will be bringing that work to the workshop.