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      Assessing research impact in academic clinical medicine: a study using Research Excellence Framework pilot impact indicators

      1 , 2 , , 1 , 2

      BMC Health Services Research

      BioMed Central

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          Abstract

          Background

          Funders of medical research the world over are increasingly seeking, in research assessment, to complement traditional output measures of scientific publications with more outcome-based indicators of societal and economic impact. In the United Kingdom, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) developed proposals for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) to allocate public research funding to higher education institutions, inter alia, on the basis of the social and economic impact of their research. In 2010, it conducted a pilot exercise to test these proposals and refine impact indicators and criteria.

          Methods

          The impact indicators proposed in the 2010 REF impact pilot exercise are critically reviewed and appraised using insights from the relevant literature and empirical data collected for the University of Oxford’s REF pilot submission in clinical medicine. The empirical data were gathered from existing administrative sources and an online administrative survey carried out by the university’s Medical Sciences Division among 289 clinical medicine faculty members (48.1% response rate).

          Results

          The feasibility and scope of measuring research impact in clinical medicine in a given university are assessed. Twenty impact indicators from seven categories proposed by HEFCE are presented; their strengths and limitations are discussed using insights from the relevant biomedical and research policy literature.

          Conclusions

          While the 2010 pilot exercise has confirmed that the majority of the proposed indicators have some validity, there are significant challenges in operationalising and measuring these indicators reliably, as well as in comparing evidence of research impact across different cases in a standardised manner. It is suggested that the public funding agencies, medical research charities, universities, and the wider medical research community work together to develop more robust methodologies for capturing and describing impact, including more valid and reliable impact indicators.

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          Most cited references 68

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Health Serv Res
                BMC Health Serv Res
                BMC Health Services Research
                BioMed Central
                1472-6963
                2012
                23 December 2012
                : 12
                : 478
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
                [2 ]Department of Education, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
                Article
                1472-6963-12-478
                10.1186/1472-6963-12-478
                3556502
                23259467
                Copyright ©2012 Ovseiko et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Research Article

                Health & Social care

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