Organisations that fund research and those that perform research are subject to the same accountability pressure, namely to provide evidence of value-for-money, often expressed as impact, in relation to the research investments made. Methods to assess the scientific impact and contribution of research, although not perfect, are well-established. It includes counting the scientific outputs of research and tracking the numbers of citations to publications in the scientific literature.
Measures to assess the broader impact of research, especially outside the university, are however very much still in their infant shoes. It is against this background that the study (2015-2018) proposed to combine, in a research information and management system (called RIS-Agric), select elements of evolving approaches for measuring the broader impact of research. RIS-Agric was developed for two South African funders of agricultural research: Hortgro and Winetech. It will allow these funders to make informed decisions about the potential and real impacts of their research (beyond scientific impact), with a focus on learning about the mechanisms or aspects of a project that produce broader impact. Since 2018, both Hortgro and Winetech are co-funded this project.
Research evaluation and the social impact of research