Organizations that fund research, such as all NAPHRO members, are under intense pressure to show that the research they support brings value to their communities. Demonstrating this value is complicated by many factors: research impacts are often not easily quantifiable; there is a time lag between when research is funded and when its benefits are realized; and there are challenges in attributing an impact to a specific research finding rather than to an accumulated body of knowledge with multiple sources.
Health Research Impacts generally include: knowledge production; research capacity-building; informed decision-making; health and health sector benefits; and economic benefits. Common reasons for NAPHRO to measure and report on the impacts of the research they fund is to demonstrate accountability and to guide investment decisions. Open measuring and reporting on research impacts can also help tell the story of the research enterprise and drive improvements in research management process and the design of research funding programs.
Among some of the widely used methods for measuring the benefits from research are bibliometric analysis, economic rate of return, peer review, case studies, logic modelling, and benchmarking. Taking a multi-indicator, multi-method approach is the only feasible way to tell the complicated and complex story of how funding research benefits Canadian public.
NAPHRO members made a commitment to a unified approach to Health Research Impacts Measurement, by using the CAHS framework for measurement of return on investment in health research. NAPHRO Impact Analysis Group (IAG).
The CAHS framework came about as a result of the work of an Expert Panel that considered two questions: is there a “best way” (best method) to evaluate the impacts of health research in Canada, and are there “best metrics” that could be used to assess those impacts (or improve them)? The CAHS Impact framework demonstrates how research activity informs decision making, eventually resulting in changes in health and economic and social prosperity. The framework also shows how research Impacts feedback upstream, potentially influencing the diffusion and impacts of other research, and creating inputs for future research. The complete framework and associated indicators can be viewed here.