Using Data to Tell Stories of Impact

Calculating how U.S government research contributes to the global advancement of science

In an era when disinformation is rising, validating that government investment in science delivers value for taxpayers is essential. However, measuring research impact is a challenge. How can an agency translate its work into data that demonstrates value?

A good start is by determining how much influence your agency’s research has on other researchers.

All research publications include bibliographies of other research that were influential to the author and their findings. Tracing and analyzing these “citation networks” shows the impact of published research. That is, if you have the specialized expertise and access to the 1.8 million new articles published in 28,000 journals every year.

Measure impact with data, tools and expertise

That’s where the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)™ at Clarivate steps in. ISI identifies influencers and impact through its annual and widely read Highly Cited Researchers™ list. The ISI team analyzes a decade’s worth of publication records from the Web of Science™, looking for the presence of multiple “highly cited” papers. Highly cited papers are the top 1% of citations by field and publication year. From there, they identify the people and organizations extending the frontiers of human knowledge, innovation and progress.

Impact of NIH research

The 2022 list, published in November, recognized just under 7,000 researchers at approximately 1,400 universities, commercial research labs and government agencies around the world. The results show that the U.S. leads the world in research influence, home to 38% of the list, including 113 researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This places the NIH within the top four institutions worldwide with the highest concentration of Highly Cited Researchers. The wide-range of research areas — from agriculture to toxicology — demonstrate the breadth of the NIH’s impact on global science and social science.

NIH is among other U.S. government agencies in the 2022 list. NASA, the Department of Energy, USDA, and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) are among the many U.S. government agencies on the list.

Research with purpose

Many of the U.S. government’s Highly Cited Researchers are solving pressing global challenges, turning tax dollars into solutions that benefit the world. Consider Gregg Beckham, a senior research fellow at NREL, whose work focuses on ridding the world of plastic waste. Xiaopeng Zheng is a postdoctoral researcher who is working in NREL’s perovskite program. Perovskite technology has the potential to revolutionize solar energy with a low-cost, industry-scalable option. At NIH, Nicholas Restifo is advancing cancer treatment with his research on immunotherapies using T-cells.

Use data to tell your agency’s story

Working with tax dollars is a responsibility that government employees take seriously. Metrics and data can help illustrate the value taxpayers receive for their investment. Finding that data and analyzing it correctly is a challenge. The answer: Work with experts who can bring objectivity and information that shows the outcomes generated by funding.

Tell your story more powerfully by using insightful data. Find out more at clarivate.com.

Dr. Joshua Schnell is Director, Academic & Government Global Consultancy at Clarivate, overseeing a team of consultants and data scientists conducting scientometric analyses, program evaluations and strategic planning for research funders, universities and research and development organizations. He has expertise in science planning, the evaluation of R&D, and science and technology policy. He has worked previously in research administration at Northwestern University, was an S&T Policy Graduate Fellow at the US National Academies of Science and holds a PhD in molecular biosciences. He is currently the co-chair of the Research, Technology and Development (RTD) Topical Interest Group of the American Evaluation Association.

Photo by Artem Podrez on pexels.com

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