Developing indicators for the usage value of research in Communication sciences. Testing the productive interactions approach
The goal of the project is to operationalize and empirically test a novel approach on the measure of the usage value of research activities based on the notion of productive interactions (Molas-Gallart and Tang, 2011, Spaapen and van Drooge, 2011). This approach considers that impact (and usage value) of research is generated only when interactions between researchers on the one side, potential users on the other side take place and these interactions are productive, in the sense that they lead to a change in the behavior and practices of the users. Productive interactions might take place through direct personal interaction (like face-to-face meetings) or be mediated by some type of carriers like publications and reports or, finally, as economic interactions through funded contracts and mobility of human resources. Thus, SIAMPI provides a framework for understanding and measuring productive interactions through a whole range of methods (quantitative and qualitative) and indicators, which allows overcoming some key limitations of other approaches to the analysis of social impact of research (time-lags, attribution problems).
In the project, the SIAMPI approach will be operationalized and implemented in the case of Swiss media and communication science, a field for which interactions with public and private represent a key dimension of research activities. Thus, the main stakeholders interacting with institutional units in the field will be identified, interactions and the usage value of research will be systematically analyzed through a range of methods – quantitative indicators, researcher’s and stakeholders interviews, case studies; moreover, through the use of the activity profiles developed in the project “Measuring research output in Swiss communication sciences” (2008-2011), it will be possible to frame interactions with public and private in the context of the whole set of unit’s activities (including as well education and scholarly ressearch without direct application aim).
In practical terms, the project – which is jointly realised by the Universities of Fribourg and Lugano in close cooperation with the Swiss Association of Communication and Media Research – will produce a methdological instrument for evaluating interactions with stakeholders and value usage of university research which can be adapted to other domains of Swiss social sciences. In the final phase of the projects, we aim to disseminate these results to all evaluation units and rectorates of Swiss universities.