In this edition: Australia, Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands and more!
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From the Network

Dear members, dear readers,

With this second news letter of the AESIS Network, I would like to wish you an innovative and exciting 2016. In this news letter, you find news that was collected and submitted by our members. We share information about societal impact (assessment) in Sweden, Australia and Ireland, about the National Research Agenda that was created bottom-up in the Netherlands and more!

In the past year, we have seen the launch of this Network and its first course in London, on integrating societal impact in a research strategy. Also, we organised the third edition of our annual conference, Impact of Science in Amsterdam.

For the upcoming year, we're excited to continue the activities of the Network; to improve and expand them. You can expect another courseby the end of this year on integrating societal impact in a research strategy, and I look forward to welcoming you at our annual conference on 9 and 10 June in Amsterdam!

Frank Zwetsloot
Director of the AESIS Network


The impact agenda in Sweden

Contribution: Johan Blaus, Project manager Impact 2.0, KTH, Sweden

Since 2012 Impact is more on the agenda in Sweden. Based on the UK Research Excellence Framework, they are now looking into redeveloping the Swedish framework.

In the Research and Innovation bill of 2012, the Swedish Government stated: “A system for resource allocation involving peer review should be further investigated with a view to introduction in the longer term. This kind of system could offer a more complete assessment that can also take account of a research area’s current potential, rather than basing resource allocation purely on historical data. This allows a more balanced assessment of an institution’s research whereby different subject areas are evaluated based on their distinctive features.” Read more here.

The Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova) is developing their mission from the bill as a pilot in the university system. Pilot 1 was carried out in 2015, regarding assessment of strategies for collaboration and implementation of those. 27 HEI’s participated. In spring 2016, Pilot 2 will be executed, regarding assessment of collaboration activities for impact. Vinnova will send their recommendations based on the results of the Pilots and their assessment model to the government by the end of 2016.

KTH has been working systematically with the Impact theme since the KTH RAE2012. A KTH plan for Impact is developed, with the themes Create, Capture and Communicate societal impact. In the organization 10 Impact Launch Leaders are appointed from the Faculty in order to raise the Impact agenda.

Economic impact of social sciences

A series of studies commissioned by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have found that the social science funded by the ESRC leads to significant economic impact.

The studies,  based on impact case studies from the Research Excellence Framework 2014, show how contributions from ESRC research support several economic benefits, such as cost-savings in business and public services, improved business turnover and profitability and economic renewal.

The outcome of the studies emphasizes the sometimes underestimated societal value and impact of social science knowledge and research. A full report of the studies can be found on this page.

Ireland's Innovation 2020 Strategy

On the 8th of December 2015, the Irish government published Innovation 2020: Excellence, Talent, Impact: Ireland’s 5-year strategy for research and development, science and technology. Innovation and impact are explicit goals in the research strategy.

Several targets are formulated as part of the strategy. An ambition with regards to the assessment of scientific research and its societal impact, is the focus on international benchmarking. Part of Innovation 2020 is to benchmark Ireland’s performance in the areas formulated in the strategy against other comparable economies, and to improve this performance. Read all of the ambitions in the report.

The strategy sets out a challenge centric approach, both nationally and internationally, and aims to enhance the effective transfer of knowledge (and thus impact).

New indicators for better understanding the socio-economic impact of research

Contribution: John Walker, Director of Strategy, Elsevier Research Intelligence
Measuring research impact is complex, especially when considering broader socio-economic impact.  To help institutions, researchers and funders understand broader impact; Elsevier is expanding the data types it covers in its SciVal tool beyond citations and usage data. This is part of Elsevier’s ongoing investments in offering a broader basket of metrics with which to evaluate research performance.
In the coming months Elsevier will add new metrics based on the following data types:
- Patent-article citations – find out how many patents cite your research, based on data from the five main patent offices.
- Media mentions – compare and benchmark the visibility of your research. These metrics are from Newsflo, an innovative startup which joined Elsevier in 2015.

In addition, SciVal will add data on awarded grants from funders, to support users in discovering which institutions are the most successful in obtaining funding.
These new metrics will be fully integrated in the four existing SciVal modules. Further details on SciVal’s product development roadmap can be found on Elsevier’s website.

Proceedings ImpAR

The 1st International Conference ImpAR (Impacts of agricultural research - towards an approach of societal values), was held in Paris, France in November 2015, and organized by the ASIRPA* project team of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). The proceedings of the conference have been published. They encompass relevant publications regarding the new challenges of broader impacts assessment, and the complementarity between case-study based and economic approaches to broader impacts. (contribution by Ariane Gaunand)

Calendar: upcoming

February 11-15: AAAS Annual Meeting, Washington DC, USA

April 20-22: NABI Summit 2016, Broadening Participation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

June 8-10: The Impact of Science 2016, AESIS Network, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Australia: ERA 2015 now complete

The Australian Research Council (ARC) released the results of the Excellence in Research for Australia round 2015 on the 4th of December. The results were published in the ERA National Report.           

Run by the Australian Research Council (ARC), Excellence in Research in Australia (ERA) is a comprehensive and rigorous assessment of research in Australian universities using a combination of indicators and expert review. The ERA 2015 round evaluated research undertaken between 2008 and 2013. The 2015 round is not the first one, there have been two prior ERA evaluations: one in 2012 and one in 2010.     

With three rounds of ERA now complete, this unique dataset covers all Australian university research outputs, staffing and activity from 2003 to 2013, and research income and research application data from 2006 to 2013. Over the coming year the ARC will produce additional volumes based on analyses of this longitudinal data, which will provide further insights into the state of Australian university research. Volume 2 is due for release in April 2016. Overall the quality of Australian university research continues to improve.

Launch Dutch Research Agenda

After months of dialogue and gathering input, the interactive Dutch National Research Agenda (Nationale Wetenschapsagenda) was presented on November 27th. The Dutch National Research Agenda contains 140 research questions from a total of 11.700 submissions.

In 2014, the Dutch government commissioned the knowledge coalition to develop an agenda for research in the Netherlands, in order to stimulate innovation and boost collaboration between academics, industry and civil society organizations.            

The Dutch government aims to further strengthen the international top position of Dutch research. Strategic choices need to be made and parties will have to work together more.

The Dutch National Research Agenda accepted its questions from the Dutch public, which are the basis of the Research Agenda. 140 cluster questions were selected from these, inspired on theory and practice. It is yet unclear what the next steps will be, or how this will actually impact the research landscape.

NABI Summit 2016

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 where you can register to attend, find travel information, and submit session proposals.
(Contribution: Sara Beth Vassner, NABI)

PhD thesis on research impact

Contribution: Barend van der Meulen, Rathenau Institute, Netherlands
In the Netherlands “valorisation” is one of the policy concepts by which research impact is promoted.  In his thesis Stefan analyses how valorisation policy of Dutch government is translated to academic practice, and how societal benefits of academic research can be evaluated? Scientists from a multitude of disciplines, as well as societal actors, have been interviewed and surveyed.

The first key result of the study is that the Dutch science system is in a transition. Scientists are motivated to engage with society and do so in many different ways. However, they have a limited understanding of valorisation policies and feel poorly equipped for the task. The second key result is that valorisation should be evaluated as a process. This facilitates learning among scientists and as such allows for improving valorisation practices. The study ends with policy recommendations, addressing government, research councils and universities, and the academic community. Read more.
Copyright © 2016 AESIS Network, All rights reserved.

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