In this edition: United States, New Zealand, United Kingdom and more!
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Action before thought, or thought before action? Deductive of inductive research approaches? Advance societal impact of science or evaluate the impact first? I have found that these apparent contradictive views need to go hand in hand to realize effective outcomes.

In this second AESIS newsletter of 2016, a range of views on evaluating and advancing societal impact are highlighted. How does a research project support national interest? Can existing research metrics be applied to assess impact of case study research? And would research profit from keeping external stakeholders involved throughout the entire research process? We have the pleasure to share news submitted by our members, from the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and more!

Meanwhile the activities of the AESIS Network are well on their way with a successful webinar on the 19th of April and the upcoming annual conference 'Impact of Science' in Amsterdam on June 9 and 10, discussing governmental and institutional methods to advance the societal impact of science. In addition to the conference, a pre-conference seminar on 'Impact of EU funded research' is organised on June 8th.

With these events we will strengthen our network and inspire our members in order to better sustain and stimulate the societal impact of science. We can only succeed with the support and enthusiasm of our members, so always feel free to bring our network and events under the attention of people that you consider relevant to our topic.

I look forward to welcoming you at one of the upcoming events and meeting you in person.

Anika Duut van Goor

Anika Duut van Goor
Manager of the AESIS Network
In this edition: AESIS events

U.S. Debates When Scientific Research is in the "National Interest"
In February, the U.S. House of Representative approved legislation, the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act (HR 3293), aimed at ensuring that research projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) advance the “National Interest.”  The legislation has fueled a vigorous debate in the United States concerning when and what science is actually in the “national interest,” who should determine this – scientists or politicians, and if you can actually predict which basic scientific research will have major scientific or societal impact. 

According to the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, the legislation will increase accountability and prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from being wasted on unworthy NSF research projects.  The U.S. scientific community, however, feels that the bill’s requirements are unnecessary and that they represent undue political meddling in the scientific peer review process currently used by the NSF to determine which scientific projects it supports. 

And the scientific community is not alone. Prior to the bill’s passage, The White House issued a statement noting  that should the legislation be approved by the U.S. Senate, President Obama would veto it on grounds that it "would add nothing to accountability in federal funding for scientific research, while needlessly adding to bureaucratic burdens and overhead at the NSF.”

For more about the debate over the legislation, read this article which appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
What are the leading indicators of impactful science and research?
Richard Gordon will speak at the Impact of Science conference about a study of environmental science projects led by a Crown research institute (CRI) in New Zealand (NZ).

The NZ government invests in science across the spectrum from scientist-led, “blue-sky” to industry-led, highly applied. Around the middle of the spectrum is significant investment in science that must demonstrate excellence and impact. Landcare Research, one of seven government-owned CRIs, receives around US$30m pa of this investment to achieve national outcomes to enhance the natural environment, working closely with stakeholders.

By common science excellence metrics Landcare Research ranks among the top 10% of institutes globally in the majority of its major areas of science. To enhance the impact of our science we undertook case studies of our projects with government, primary industry and Māori entities, interviewing stakeholders about what makes science valuable. We also assessed value to science stakeholders.

For government users of science key attributes were credibility, including journal publications, and ability to contribute to resolving policy challenges in real time (rather than at the end of a programme). Primary industries valued collaborations that produce whole, usable solutions. For Māori (our indigenous people) value was in high-trust relationships and science complementing traditional knowledge. All external stakeholders valued being “taken on the journey” with the science and follow-through that doesn’t leave “orphaned” tools and databases. Among scientists value, was seen in providing headroom for innovation, choosing appropriate collaborations, and in the integration of disciplines.

Authors, Richard Gordon and Pete Millard are Chief Executive and General Manager Science at Landcare Research and have worked previously in the UK at Syngenta Ltd and the James Hutton Institute, respectively. Richard welcomes communication on this topic at
More effective EU grant applications through societal impact
The AESIS Network organised a webinar on advancing EU research proposals through the use of societal impact on April 19th 2016, led by experts Lotte Jaspers, Christopher James and Jan Andersen. They provided insights from universities’ and EU perspectives, and provided approaches and suggestions on using ‘impact’ and Research Information Systems while writing grant proposals.
During the webinar Christopher James provided insights the tools and metrics available to determine the socio-economic impact of your research and which tools can be used to identify research partners. click here for the presentation.

Jan Andersen and Lotte Jaspers followed, discussing the different B chapters, Excellence and Impact, of the Horizon 2020 calls. Mr Andersen focused on the B1.4 chapter and on parts of the B2.1 and B2.2 Impact. What to focus on and what you need to know. He also focused on the Technology readiness level and what is needed for that. click here for the presentation.

Ms Jaspers gave a practical view on writing the impact chapter of your proposal with a focus on the final 2 chapters of B2.2. One chapter focuses on Exploitation (B2.2.a) and Dissemination (B2.2.b) and the other chapter focuses on Communication (B2.3). Unfortunately we are not able to share the slides of Ms. Jaspers.

The recording of the conference can be found here.
Priming peer review for societal impact assessment
Until recently, discussions concerned with societal impact have been focused on issues of definition, value, and how to map realised impact from research.  Less attention has focused on the implementation of societal impact evaluation and how the method of implementation can influence the extent to which the academic community view the criteria of societal impact as part of research excellence.

An upcoming book, authored by Dr Gemma Derrick of Lancaster University, examines how the concept of societal impact for evaluation is negotiated in peer review panels.
Using a series of interviews with evaluators from the UK’s 2014 Research Excellence Framework, this book analyses how peer review panels negotiated the assessment of societal impact.  Whereas what is known about peer review panel behaviour is mapped upon how experts consider notions of traditional, scientific impact, this book for the first time extends this to notions of societal impact.  It argues that by understanding the process of societal impact evaluation by peer review, new avenues regarding the efficient evaluation of impact can be explored.  This is particularly important when the future of impact evaluation is currently considered to lie with the application of quantitative indicators, or impact proxies, to guide its evaluation.

The book discusses the politics of the impact criteria, both in the UK and internationally, and offers empirically based recommendations about how future evaluations can balance an academic desire for academic excellence, with the societal responsibility for reflexive and accountable research through the academic pillar of peer review.  In addition, the book will consider the elements necessary for peer review panels to ensure that new, untested criteria such as societal impact, are assessed with the academic rigour and legitimacy that comes with gold-standard peer review.

The book, working title “Academic Peer Review and Impact Assessment”, is to be published with Palgrave Macmillan in early 2017.
A fresh look at the socio-economic impact of research

Universities, funding bodies, governments and companies all want to know how the research they’re conducting and paying for is contributing to society. Each has its own approach to gathering and analyzing data to determine the socio-economic impact of their work.

This can be challenging. How can research metrics be used alongside qualitative input such as case studies?

A golden rule of using research metrics is that no metric should be used in isolation. Putting undue emphasis on any one metric can give a biased view of the socio-economic impact of research, or any other type of impact. In turn, it draws disproportionate attention to a single aspect of research, which can have a deleterious long-term effect on an institution’s – or country’s – research output.

Elsevier is taking a fresh look at socio-economic impact metrics and is adding insightful data sources to SciVal to help institutions navigate metrics more effectively. Learn more in the Elsevier Connect article: A fresh look at the socio-economic impact of research.
(contribution: Christopher James)

On June 9-10 the AESIS Network is hosting its annual Impact of Science conference. This year the conference focuses primarily on governmental and institutional methods to advance the societal impact of science, and the methods needed to assess the impact sufficiently.

The conference will evaluate methods and best practices around the world on:
· governmental policies to stimulate the societal impact of science;
· implementing new impact strategies for universities and research institutes;
· output indicators for the societal impact of science;
· supporting the societal interaction with research institutes;
· defining the balance between societal input on– and societal output of science.

The conference will be chaired by Prof. Paul Boyle, President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester. Confiremed speakers include Prof. Daniel Zajfman, President of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Tobin Smith, Vice-President for Policy at the Association of American Universities, and Prof. Louise Gunning-Schepers,  Chair of the Dutch National Research Agenda.
The conference is preceded by a seminar on the Impact of EU funded research on June 8. This seminar focuses on new insights on the impact of Horizon 2020 & EIT for economies and societies.

Both programmes are facing midterm reviews this year, an excellent moment to discuss the impact of these programmes on society and how to advance this. What is the synergy between national and European research funding programmes? How can this be improved and the impact increased? Attendees will gain insight in the impact of the current programmes as well as what can be done to improve EUropean impact strategies and evaluation practices to increase the impact in the future.

We are delighted to present you key stakeholders like, Martin Kern, Director a.i. of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT), Kurt Vandenberghe representing Horizon 2020 and Alex Brenninkmeijer who is a member of the relevant chamber at the European Court of Auditors. Chairman of the seminar is Prof. Koenraad Debackere, General Manager of KU Leuven, Belgium, and Chairman of the AESIS Network.
The National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI) will hold its 4th annual Broader Impacts Summit April 20-22nd at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA.  This year’s central theme is broadening participation, a key element of the National Science Foundations (NSF) broader impacts criterion.  Other session topics will include professional development, BI evaluation, broadening participation, and BI policy. 

 Featured speakers include Dr. Suzy Iacono, Acting Office Head of the NSF Office of Integrative Activities, Dr. Karen Cone, Program Director for NSF Genetics Mechanism Cluster, and Dr. Wanda Ward, Assistant Director, Office of Science & Technology and Executive Office of the President, Broadening Participation Science Division. 

To learn more about the 2016 Broader Impacts Summit, please visit the website.
(Contribution: Sara Beth Vassner)
The ASIRPA impact assessment team of the French INRA is organizing a track dedicated to societal impact of agricultural research at the upcoming OpenEvaluation Conference 2016.
The largest conference in Europe dedicated to the evaluation of policies in the field of research, technology and innovation policy will gather academics, evaluators, research managers, authorities and RTI policy makers to debate challenging developments in RTI policy and their effects on evaluation theory and practice. The conference addresses new actor settings, approaches and themes in RTI policy evaluation. Thus, the term OPEN EVALUATION signals openness towards new values, new stakeholders and beneficiaries and new approaches and themes in RTI policies and RTI evaluations.
Extended abstracts of 3 to 5 pages including references can be submitted until May 8, 2016.
(contribution by Ariane Gaunand)
SROI, or Social Return on Investment, is one of the most well established frameworks for measuring and accounting for social value and impact. Based on a mixture of financial accounting, sustainability reporting and cost benefit analysis, SROI can help you to reliably and credibly measure the social impact of your research.
Social Value UK have been running their flagship 2 day Practitioner course in SROI for over 7 years, and 2016 dates include London, Edinburgh and the Netherlands.
See their website for more details.
In February, Elsevier added patent-article citations data as a measure of economic impact to SciVal, their tool to analyze and benchmark the world of research, and part of the Elsevier Research Intelligence portfolio of tools and services. Leading up to the release the product team worked with a number of customers around the world to test the new metrics, including Amberyn Thomas, Director, Scholarly Communication and Digitization Services, University of Queensland.

Amberyn and her team are regularly evaluating the research landscape. They noticed that there is a trend to look towards the broader impact of research – the flow of knowledge from universities to industry and society more generally. Patent data sits in this space. See Amberyn share her findings in a short video.
(contribution: Christopher James)
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