Helping research make an impact
The relationship between science and society is changing, with greater engagement among researchers and civil society, and a higher emphasis on the “impact” of research.
Research aims to generate new knowledge and, increasingly, to promote the use of that knowledge to enable change, solve problems and support innovation. Yet, how can researchers measure their success in communicating their findings?
Transdisciplinary research—research that crosses various disciplines and sectors—operates within complex systems. Conventional research evaluation tools monitor publications and citations as valuable checks on the validity and influence of a researcher’s work within the scientific community. But, this data reveals little about how the research has contributed to social change, if at all, and provides no guidelines on how to communicate research better.
As Canada Research Chair in Sustainability Research Effectiveness, Brian Belcher will develop and test improved methods for evaluating transdisciplinary research. He aims to develop sound theory as well as practical and effective methods for assessing the impact of applied and transdisciplinary research. He will also generate new understanding about how research contributes to sustainable development.
Specifically, Belcher’s research will: 1) develop an international network of collaborators focusing on impact and effectiveness in sustainability research; 2) develop and test evaluation approaches and methods for transdisciplinary research; 3) analyze and evaluate selected livelihoods, community resilience, and sustainability research projects/programs; 4) recommend applicable, improved approaches and methods.
Ultimately, Belcher’s work will lead us to a deeper understanding of how to identify and enhance the impact of research, while helping researchers and educators ensure that this knowledge translates into action.