From bench to bedside: The societal orientation of research leaders

See on Scoop.itDual impact of research; towards the impactelligent university


This paper answers five questions about the societal impact of research. Firstly, we examine the opinions of research group leaders about the increased emphasis on societal impact, i.e. does it influence their research agenda, communication with stakeholders, and knowledge dissemination to stakeholders? Furthermore, we investigate the quality of their societal output. We also study whether the societal and scholarly productivity of academic groups are positively or negatively related. In addition, we investigate which managerial and organisational factors (e.g. experience of the principal investigator, group size and funding) influence societal output. Finally, we show for one case (virology) that societal impact is also visible through indirect links. Our study shows that research group leaders have a slightly positive attitude towards the increased emphasis on the societal impact of research. The study also indicates a wide variety of societal-oriented output. Furthermore, the societal and scientific productivity of academic groups are unrelated, suggesting that stimulating social relevance requires specific organisational and contextual interventions.


The authors:”The process of knowledge transfer to society may be improved considerably by supporting the societal orientation of research leaders in a
more explicit manner. The current incentive structure in the science system, including research careers, still seems largely based on scientific performance in a narrow sense. It has been pointed out that ties to society and political bodies do not lead to pay-offs that can be mapped by the conventional indicators of successful scientific performance, including contract funding. Universities, for example, like to exhibit their societal engagement, but, in practice, these activities remain largely unrewarded.”

Key wordssocietal outputresearch groupsresearch fundingscience communicationincentive structuresscience system


Inge van der Weijden,Maaike Verbreeand Peter van den Besselaar

From bench to bedside: The societal orientation of research leaders: The case of biomedical and health research in the Netherlands Science and Public Policy (2012) 39(3): 285-303 doi:10.1093/scipol/scr003

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About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: Here is my other weblog on impact of research:

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