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Framework launched to boost impact of medical research


Australian association’s framework provides “shared language” to help measure impact and improve communication

A Research Impact Framework has been launched in an effort to give Australian medical researchers a “shared language” to demonstrate the value of their work. 

The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes launched the framework report, developed by a multi-institution working group, on 13 May. It offers definitions of terms in research measurement, such as research impact, research translation, impact pathways and indicators used to measure impact.

AAMRI president Jonathan Carapetis said that medical researchers could “now use a common language to describe and measure the impacts of our research”.

The framework breaks research impact down into six categories: social impact, economic impact, health impact, how research informs decision-making, capacity-building in research and the advancement of knowledge. Each category has a number of defined submetrics.

Until now, the report says, “there has been limited sector-wide agreement on what are the best approaches to tracking and assessing research impact in Australia, with no common or consistent impact language used by the sector”.

Australia’s “broad scope of research makes it difficult to standardise an approach for understanding research impact,” it says.

Calls for consistency

The AAMRI said that half of Australia’s medical research institutes took part in the process, through surveys and feedback on the framework, and funding bodies also participated.

Many of the responses from researchers said that having a consistent system to prove research outcomes to governments and funding bodies was a high priority.

They also wanted consistency across the various reporting systems they used, and funding bodies said they wanted a consistent way to understand research impacts.

Accountability for research spending, improvement of the usefulness of research and an increase in the availability of research to others were all given as reasons for having a consistent framework.

Researchers also said that a workable framework would improve the health outcomes stemming from their research.

Among the organisations signing up to use the framework are the Children’s Medical Research Institute, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Telethon Kids Institute.

The AAMRI said the working group would continue to look at ways for medical research to be translated into real-world outcomes.