What is 'research engagement' and 'research impact'?
The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) defines research engagement as “the interaction between researchers and research organisations and their larger communities/industries for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, understanding and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity” (see page 7 of ATSE’s Research engagement for Australia report).
In the recent Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation, the Australian Research Council (ARC) defines research impact as “the demonstrable contribution that research makes to the economy, society, culture, national security, public policy or services, health, the environment, or quality of life, beyond contributions to academia” (see Research Impact Principles and Framework on the ARC website).
Similarly, the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (2014) guideline defines research impact as “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia” (see page 26, 2014 REF Assessment framework and guidance for submissions).
Research data is an enabler and pathway to 'engagement and impact'
Research data is a critical information asset which provides an important platform for collaboration between the research sector and the business sector as well as applications in public policy, education, citizen engagement, etc.
Data sharing for instance can play a pivotal role in collaboration between academia, industries and communities more broadly. As such, research data is a significant enabler or pathway of “research engagement and impact” for many research projects.
The companion case studies report of the Watt review, for instance, highlighted a common pattern of such engagement and impact pathways: a research group builds a trusted data resource from a combination of research and public sector sources which then forms the basis of a long term collaboration and engagement with industry, business, public sector, NGOs, etc.
These collaborations and engagements, in turn, generate social, economic, cultural, environmental or health benefits for stakeholders beyond academia.
Case studies promoted in ANDS’ recent #dataimpact campaign have also illustrated similar benefits and impacts generated from research data.