Academic Research Impact Ecosystem Theory

What happens when you combine?

(1) Installation Theory – A synthetic theory to explain how humans construct systems that support and format individual behavior, by Saadi Lahlou,

(2) Theory of Change (TOC),

(3) Logic models, and

(4) Our working inclusive definition of Academic Research Impact – A marked positive, negative, and (in theory neutral) immediate, future, or far future effect or influence that happens inside the Academy and across disciplines on conceptual/theoretical understanding, expenditures, methods, applications, instruments, bibliometrics, attitudes, beliefs, values, perceptions, or capacity building and outside of the Academy on quality of life, health, economy, society/social, environments, policies, attitudes, beliefs, values, perceptions, services, cultures, laws, or technologies that is affiliated, associated, or in combination with, done through or generated as a result of direct and indirect academic research inputs, outputs, and mid-intermediate-long-term outcomes that are either aggregated or disaggregated in conjunction with different types and intensities of engagement at the individual, community, local, state, regional, national, and global level involving a variety of people, stakeholders, and end users.

You get a working Academic Research Impact Ecosystem Theory (picture below and still a work-in-progress) that helps: one to consider what is needed when thinking about Academic Research Impact Management; predict system to individual research impact behavior; plan Academic Research Impact; research impact accountability; and characterizing how Academic Research Impact progresses at an individual, micro, meso, and macro-level.

More to come soon!

Knowledge, Dissemination, the University, and the Economy of Knowledge Abundance

At some point in time (I hope it will be sooner than later) Universities (those in them) will have to reconsider how they are approaching the public in terms of their values, practices, and ideologies when it comes to knowledge dissemination.

Knowledge dissemination is a phrase that is used ubiquitously across the academic landscape. Originally, knowledge dissemination practices were based on the pre-Knowledge Abundance Economy Era or the Era of Knowledge Scarcity. In the Era of Knowledge Scarcity, Universities were considered by many to be a beacon of knowledge and thus it was imperative that Universities and the individuals in them set up mechanisms to provide knowledge to the public.

As more knowledge was provided and technological acuity increased it prompted the use and development of technological “Knowledge Systems”, (a.k.a. knowledge-based systems) – especially in the context of knowledge management (KM). In this context, a knowledge-base is defined as a collection of complex structured and unstructured information used by a computer system. This term, knowledge base (KB), was originally employed in connection with expert systems (a.k.a. experts).

So, it is not surprising to hear in Academic circles KB being used frequently in this way – “That we, individuals in the University, are contributing to the knowledge base”. Which is an approach that works very well within the context of traditional academic knowledge dissemination practices and ideology.

From an Academic perspective, there is a knowledge base/s and someone in the Academy will add to it. Again, this assumes that knowledge is stable, knowledge is wanted or needed, and that it is valued by the public.

If you are interested and want to read more click here.

 

Copyright and Citation of Work: Author holds copyright. This is an open access print distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. This paper is a work in progress and the author has made modifications to original work.

Citation for Original Work: Thompson, M. (2018). Knowledge and the Problem With the Practice of University Knowledge Dissemination to the Public in the Era of Knowledge Abundance. Authorea Repository. DOI: 10.22541/au.152993669.97084818.

 

Debunking the Twenty (20) Major Misconceptions About Broader Impacts, One at a Time:

Misconception 2: Broader impacts, specifically NSF broader impacts should be institutionalized.

Institutions should promote a broader impacts culture rather than try to exclusively institutionalize National Science Foundation (NSF) broader impacts. This supports a global conceptual definition of broader impacts rather than one just focused on NSF. The global conceptual definition of broader impacts is a process with stakeholders/people to achieve a societal benefit in a finite time that is measured. This can be through one’s, teaching, research, service, and occupation. There can be broader impacts of almost anything. If done appropriately broader impacts can lead to sustainable positive impacts.

Traditionally NSF has had a focus on broader impacts done through, complementary to, and related in some way to STEM, social science, and aspects of education research. STEM, social science, and primarily STEM education research are fields that fit within the NSF mission. However, NSF does not focus on all fields and occupations found throughout the institution. So there is a limit to who can value and adopt this important work if the objective is to institutionalize NSF broader impacts. This applies to institutions across the nation and those abroad. Furthermore, if it’s believed that broader impacts is only a function of a NSF criterion, which it is not, institutionalizing NSF broader impacts becomes an almost impossible endeavor. One cannot truly make something an institutional value if it is not widely applicable, used, and accepted by an entire institution.

Attempts to institutionalize NSF broader impacts have had some positive effects. There are now more people in the academy who explicitly show the societal benefits of their work. However, results of trying to institutionalize NSF broader impacts have also created negative perceptions about broader impacts by many of those: who are not in STEM; who are not in the academy; and whose areas of work are not applicable for NSF. Many inside and outside of the institution have been taken advantage of by those who are just trying to meet a broader impacts criterion to get funding. Those who have been taken advantage of inside the institution range from a number of university organizations to faculty, staff, and graduate students. Those outside of the institution who have been taken advantage of are primarily individuals or organizations who provide services to the community. In addition, others inside of the institution who do not apply to NSF see broader impacts as not being applicable in their field. A refocus to institutionalizing a broader impacts culture and movement away from trying to institutionalize broader impacts in regards to a criterion would reunite the academy and the institution with those in the community. Institutionalization of a broader impacts culture allows everyone inside and outside of the institution to come together and be both participants in and beneficiaries of the broader impacts effort.

In conclusion, through the use of the global definition of broader impacts, institutionalization of a broader impacts culture can align with all individuals in an entire university and most university and college missions. This would apply to universities and colleges both nationally and internationally. Emphasis on a global understanding of broader impacts that provides a comprehensive outcome-based approach for an entire institution enables universities and colleges to provide a greater societal benefit and/or positive societal impact. This would also help those in the academy submitting to NSF to achieve more creative, innovative, transformative, and overall higher quality NSF broader impacts.

 

[References below are provided to give a way to be made aware of some of the applicable resources. This is not a comprehensive reference list and the references provided do not necessarily meet the latest format MLA, APA, and etc., rules.]

Adetunji, O. (2016). Engaged Scholarship and Broader Impacts Joint Committee. Year End Report 2015-2016. Brown University.

Adetunji, O. and Renoe, S. (2017). Assessing Broader Impacts. MRS Advances, 1-6. Doi: 10.1557/ adv.2017.136

Adetunji, O. and Thompson, M. (2016). The Broader Impacts Conceptual Framework (BICF) 2014 Lexicon Modification for the Brown University Engaged Scholarship and Broader Impacts Joint Committee Year End Report of 2015-2016. Brown University.

National Science Foundation (NSF). (2015). Perspectives on Broader Impacts. Online at, https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/publications/Broader_Impacts.pdf (accessed 31, May 2017).

National Science Foundation (NSF). (2017). NSF 17-1 Proposal and Award and Procedures Guide (PAPPG), OMB Control Number 3145-0058.

The Broader Impacts in Research (BIR) Organization. (2014). BI Definitions Guide: An abbreviated collection of explanations that begins to provide a common language when discussing, practicing, understanding, and better articulating the dimensions of broader impacts (BI). [Brochure]. [Norman, Oklahoma]. Thompson, M.

The Broader Impacts in Research (BIR) Organization. (2014). Broader Impacts Conceptual Framework (BICF) Lexicon. The University of Oklahoma. Thompson, M.

The Journal of Epistemology. (2009). Special Issue devoted to NSF Broader Impacts Criterion. Volume 23, Nos 3-4, July – December, 2009.

Debunking the Twenty (20) Major Misconceptions About Broader Impacts, One at a Time:

Misconception 1: Broader Impacts only pertains to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Broader Impacts Criterion.

The global conceptual definition of broader impacts is a process with stakeholders/people to achieve a societal benefit in a finite time that is measured. This can be through one’s, teaching, research, service, occupation, and etc. There can be broader impacts of almost anything. If done appropriately broader impacts can lead to sustainable positive impacts. Having a global conceptual understanding of broader impacts helps answer questions such as – Who decides what will be done? Who benefits from those actions? Society through groups, communities, organizations, institutions, families, and individuals ultimately decides the value of actions as well as who benefits from those actions. This includes faculty. Having a global definition also allows us to begin to differentiate between broader impacts and impacts.

So what about NSF? The NSF broader impacts definition for the criterion is stated as encompassing the potential to benefit society and contribute to achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes. This NSF definition of broader impacts aligns well with and can be explained through the global broader impacts conceptual description. An example of this alignment can be seen in outcome number four in NSF’s 1-9 desired societal outcomes. Outcome number four is defined as improved well-being of individuals in society. NSF desired societal outcome number four delineates and anticipates a positive societal outcome that has yet to be specified. I call it a just in case and everything else clause. Outcome number four implies that there may be a moment where specific actions will be taken that allow an improvement to an individual’s well-being. This improvement would be achieved based on a process with stakeholders/people deciding what will be done and who benefits. These benefits would not fit within the other eight NSF desired societal outcome categories. This supports the idea that there can be broader impacts of almost anything and further shows alignment with the broader impacts global concept.

Furthermore NSF, a federal agency, has specific foci as it relates to broader impacts. This is in regards to mostly STEM and social science fundamental research. This could be accomplished through: the research itself; activities that are directly related to specific projects; and activities that are supported by, but are complementary to the project. A more detailed description of how this specifically relates to the broader impacts global concept will be discussed at another time.

Outside of NSF, there are other agencies and foundations that also have a “benefits to society” requirement but these requirements are applicable to their specific broader impacts foci. The difference between NSF and local, state, regional, national and international agencies and foundations is that they do not specifically use the term broader impacts. They call “it”, meaning broader impacts something else. There are many of these broader impacts-like terms, phrases, and ideas used around the world. A few examples of these are terms like Valorization (in Netherlands), Knowledge Mobilization (in Canada), Equity in Development (in India), Capacity Building (in Africa), National Economic and Social Development and Social Influence, (in China from NSFC Article 14-15), Ultimate Outcomes (in United States Department of Education), and concepts underpinning Responsible Research and Innovation and the Research Excellence Framework (the European Union).

Broader impacts is multi-dimensional, multi-level, and multi-encompassing. Broader Impacts can also be accomplished in many different ways. So regardless of whether “it”: is fully integrated as a requirement; indirectly implied in a vision or mission; a subset of an organizations funding foci; called a different name; or explicitly called broader impacts, “it” can still be understood and explained through a global conceptual definition. Therefore all specific foci and aspects of broader impacts rest on a global verifiable concept and not solely according to an agency or foundation requirement.

 

[References below are provided to give a way to be made aware of some of the applicable resources. This is not a comprehensive reference list and the references provided do not necessarily meet the latest format MLA, APA, and etc., rules.]

Adetunji, O. (2016). Engaged Scholarship and Broader Impacts Joint Committee. Year End Report 2015-2016. Brown University.

Adetunji, O. and Renoe, S. (2017). Assessing Broader Impacts. MRS Advances, 1-6. Doi: 10.1557/ adv.2017.136

Adetunji, O. and Thompson, M. (2016). The Broader Impacts Conceptual Framework (BICF) 2014 Lexicon Modification for the Brown University Engaged Scholarship and Broader Impacts Joint Committee Year End Report of 2015-2016. Brown University.

Davis, M. and Laas, K. (2014), “Broader Impacts” or “Responsible Research and Innovation”? A Comparison of Two Criteria for Funding Research in Science and Engineering. Science and Engineering Ethics, Volume 20, pp 963-983.

National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI). (2015). Broader Impacts Guiding Principles and Questions for National Science Foundation Proposals. [Tri-fold]. [Columbia, MO]: Adetunji, O., Coakley, C., Dawe, J., Dugan, C., Fields, J., Kobilka, S., Koroly, M., Menninger, H., Renoe, S., Ristvey, J., Scowcroft, G., Spohr, K., Sundararajan, S., Thompson, M., and Youngblood, T.

National Science Foundation (NSF). (2015). Perspectives on Broader Impacts. Online at, https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/publications/Broader_Impacts.pdf (accessed 31, May 2017).

National Science Foundation (NSF). (2017). NSF 17-1 Proposal and Award and Procedures Guide (PAPPG), OMB Control Number 3145-0058.

The Broader Impacts in Research (BIR) Organization. (2014). BI Definitions Guide: An abbreviated collection of explanations that begins to provide a common language when discussing, practicing, understanding, and better articulating the dimensions of broader impacts (BI). [Brochure]. [Norman, Oklahoma]. Thompson, M.

The Broader Impacts in Research (BIR) Organization. (2014). Broader Impacts Conceptual Framework (BICF) Lexicon. The University of Oklahoma. Thompson, M.