Globally and in Australia, research impact is a hot topic for funders. But what can we as health and medical researchers do to ensure our work contributes to society? To help answer these questions (and more) Tamika Heiden from Knowledge Translation Australia talks about the Research Impact Summit.
As a researcher, I was always plagued by the possibility of doing more with my work and solving bigger problems. After all, I became a researcher so that I could change the world!
But what exactly do we mean by research impact? Traditionally, this has referred to the citation rates of journal articles. However, more recently, research impact refers to change outside of academia, such as policy, practice or process change based on the evidence from research. As researchers, there is ever-increasing pressure to show that the work we do provides broad and sustainable benefits. Funders in Australia and globally are focusing on the translation and impact of research to ensure that money spent on research delivers economic, environmental or social benefits outside of academia.
Given this global focus and current interest, last year I came up with the slightly crazy and lofty idea of bringing the how-to of research impact to researchers. One of the biggest challenges within research is working out where to focus our time and how to save money. With the key elements of time and money in mind, I developed the 3-day online Research Impact Summit, and provided it for free. I had gotten to thinking about my ideal conference, what did I want to know and who in the world should I ask? In answering this question, it became clear that running an event online would allow me to have all the speakers I wanted speaking at the one event.
The Summit is not your standard conference. Aside from being virtual, it is real and raw with the learning opportunities coming through one-on-one interviews. The objectives are for researchers to hear the ‘how to’ of creating and measuring impact, and not just the ‘what to do’. In 2016, the Summit brought together more than 20 speakers and 1200 attendees from 16 countries over 3 days to talk about research impact. Speakers included researchers, knowledge translation specialists, technology providers, innovators in the higher education space, and policy experts. To keep things social, we used Twitter feeds, a Facebook group and online chat boxes to provide opportunities for discussion, feedback, learning and networking for individuals and organisations to improve their research impact. The Summit provided something for everyone, but ultimately each conversation covered an element of creating or measuring impact, be it through planning, strategy development, engagement and collaboration, understanding implementation, using technology and online platforms, or understanding the learnings from those that have been through the measurement process.
The Summit was so well received that I am running it again on 9-11 October 2017 and you can grab your free pass!
Tamika holds a PhD from the University of Western Australia and runs her own consulting firm, Knowledge Translation Australia. She is a cycling fanatic, although this is weather dependent, and a self-confessed coffee snob which goes with the territory when you live in Melbourne!