Assessing research impact potential: using the transdisciplinary Outcome Spaces Framework with New Zealand’s National Science Challenges

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Kotuitui, 2020
Issue Date:
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© 2020, © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Calls for science to have impact as well as excellence have been loud and clear from research funders, policymakers and research institutions for some time. Transdisciplinary research (TDR) is expected to deliver impact by connecting scientists with stakeholders and end users to co-produce knowledge to respond to complex issues. While New Zealand’s science system is geared to deliver excellence, its capability to also deliver impact beyond academic institutions is less clear. This paper has two interconnected aims. Firstly, it presents findings from testing innovations to the TDR Outcome Spaces Framework (OSF+) with four National Science Challenges (NSCs). We conclude that OSF+ is a useful tool for planning for multiple outcomes and assessing the potential for impact. Secondly, it presents findings of how using OSF+ to assess research impact potential revealed a range of implicit theories of change (i.e. catalyst, deficit, engagement and collaboration) across the NSCs. The findings raise important questions about the prospects for New Zealand’s science system to deliver the envisaged and needed levels of research impact when current institutional settings, expectations, recognition systems, career paths and measures of success are not yet able to adequately accommodate TDR to deliver the research impact.
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