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Research Impact and Communications: The New Kid on the Block

By SRAI News posted 02-09-2022 02:34 PM


Research Impact and Communications: The New Kid on the Block

Excitement is mounting in SRAI circles for the 2022 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, November 2 to 4, with the proposal submission deadline, February 18, quickly closing. One of the first tasks in developing a proposal is to select the relevant Track – Professional Development; Management and Operations; Sponsors and Agencies; and the list goes on! Most are well-recognized and understood subject areas, but one new kid on the block, Research Impact and Communications, launched in 2019, is less well-understood.

The Research Impact and Communications Track responds to the world-wide trend in which research impact and engagement has become part of the research administrator tool kit. In the unpublished results of INORMS RAAP-2 (Research Administration As A Profession) survey more than half of respondents indicated that research impact and engagement (REI) are relevant to their roles and that they support these activities.

According to the SRAI website the Track topics include: “identifying, measuring, and communicating on the impact and outcomes of research and scholarly activity; bibliometrics; altmetrics; developing community partnerships & engagement; research/science outreach activities; knowledge mobilization; uses of social media for research communications; and global best-practices for maximizing research impact.” The Co-chairs for this Track are experienced practitioners and SRAI presenters in this field of growing international importance:  Stephen Beck, Associate Vice President Office of Research & Economic Development, Louisiana State University (US); David Phipps, Assistant VP Research Strategy & Impact, York University, (Canada); and Andrew Wray, Head of Impact Development, Research & Enterprise Development, University of Bristol, (UK). Their international perspectives reflect the diversity of REI approaches in different countries and will make for a diverse and interesting program. The Co-chairs encourage a broad range of proposals while also suggest topics of particular interest to Annual Meeting participants.  

Stephen Beck who oversees LSU’s research communication efforts, faculty training, and public outreach activities (LSU Science Café) is particularly interested in seeing studies about the impact of RIE on public perceptions of research or public policy by regional elected leaders. He also suggests that sessions which provide the perspectives of individual engagement by faculty researchers and those which focus on supporting the institutional infrastructure for knowledge mobilization activities would be well-received. 

David Phipps notes that because the bulk of RIE scholarship and practice relates to supporting individual researchers, grant applications, and research projects, presentations on this topic would be welcomed.  He also suggests that research leaders are especially interested in topics that explore how to build institutional capacity to support RIE, through policies, strategies, staff, tools, and funding. (In addition to his day job, David leads Research Impact Canada, a pan-Canadian network of 22 universities and research organizations dedicated to building institutional capacity for knowledge mobilization.) 

Andrew Wray, who recently led the University of Bristol’s Impact Case Studies for the Research Excellence Framework exercise that determines the distribution of >£1.6Bn each year to UK Universities,

notes that the COVID-19 pandemic and COP26 conference have shown that research impact is about far more than commercialization. He states, “This track would welcome proposals on how researchers engage with governments and the public and novel IP management approaches (such as we’ve seen between AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and with countries in the Global South).” 

Stephen sums it up quite nicely: “Whatever it is you are doing to support or create research impact or engagement, tell us about it.” 

With this in mind, the Research Impact and Communications track at Las Vegas 2022 is bound to be a resounding success.  Let your creative juices run wild! Ready, set, submit -- by February 18!

Authored by Terry Campbell, Assistant Vice President, Research Services
University of Ottawa
SRAI Catalyst Co-editor, 2022 Annual Meeting Co-chair