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BMC Med. 2016 May 23;14:78. doi: 10.1186/s12916-016-0620-8.

Research impact: a narrative review.

Author information

1
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Radcliffe Primary Care Building, Woodstock Rd, Oxford, OX2 6GG, UK. trish.greenhalgh@phc.ox.ac.uk.
2
Primary Care and Population Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, SO16 6YD, UK.
3
Health Economics Research Group (HERG), Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, Brunel University London, ᅟ, UB8 3PH, UK.

Abstract

Impact occurs when research generates benefits (health, economic, cultural) in addition to building the academic knowledge base. Its mechanisms are complex and reflect the multiple ways in which knowledge is generated and utilised. Much progress has been made in measuring both the outcomes of research and the processes and activities through which these are achieved, though the measurement of impact is not without its critics. We review the strengths and limitations of six established approaches (Payback, Research Impact Framework, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, monetisation, societal impact assessment, UK Research Excellence Framework) plus recently developed and largely untested ones (including metrics and electronic databases). We conclude that (1) different approaches to impact assessment are appropriate in different circumstances; (2) the most robust and sophisticated approaches are labour-intensive and not always feasible or affordable; (3) whilst most metrics tend to capture direct and proximate impacts, more indirect and diffuse elements of the research-impact link can and should be measured; and (4) research on research impact is a rapidly developing field with new methodologies on the horizon.

KEYWORDS:

Health gains; Implementation science; Knowledge translation; Monetisation; Payback Framework; Research accountability; Research impact; Research utilization

PMID:
27211576
PMCID:
PMC4876557
DOI:
10.1186/s12916-016-0620-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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