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Measuring the Impact of Research: What do we know?

Posted Oct 20 2008 12:07pm

Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Insight-Action Issue 46

Available online as PDF file at:

"Organizations that fund research are under intense pressure to show that the research they support brings value to their communities.  In fact, in Canada, demonstrating the impact of research is a requirement of the federal government's science and technology strategy. Due mainly to the applied nature of their research, health services and policy researchers in particular face high expectations to describe the benefits of their work."


* A common reason for measuring the impact of research is to demonstrate accountability, but results of measuring can also be used to guide improvements in research and programming.

* Health research impacts generally include: knowledge production; research capacity-building; informed decision-making; health and health sector benefits; and economic benefits.

* Among some of the widely used methods for measuring the benefits from research are bibliometric analysis, economic rate of return, peer review, case studies, logic modelling, and benchmarking. Taking a multi-indicator, multi-method approach is advised.

Related online Papers:

1. RAND Europe. 2006. "Measuring the benefits from research." Policy
2. Government of Canada. 2007. Mobilizing science and technology to
Canada's advantage.
3. Hovland, I. 2007. "Making a difference: M&E of policy research." Working
Paper 281 Results of ODI research presented in preliminary form for
discussion and critical comment.
4. Davies, H., Nutley, S., & Walter, I. 2005. "Assessing the impact of
social science research: conceptual, methodological and practical
issues." Research Unit for Research Utilisation (RURU), University of
St. Andrews.
5. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 2005. "Developing a CIHR
Framework to Measure the Impact of Health Research - Synthesis Report of

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