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The wicked problem of measuring real-world research impact: Using sustainable development goals (SDGs) and targets in academia
journal contributionposted on 2021-11-28, 23:09 authored by Geoffrey ChapmanGeoffrey Chapman, Ashley Cully, Jennifer Kosiol, Stephanie MachtStephanie Macht, Ross ChapmanRoss Chapman, Janna A Fitzgerald, Frank Gertsen
This paper proposes that the United Nation's sustainable development goals (SDGs) and associated targets form an effective framework for determining real-world research impact. Existing bibliometrics that assess the quality of academic work are usually quantitative and self-referential, reducing the focus on real-world issues. The same measurements are often adopted by funding bodies, pressuring researchers to increase compliance, and further reducing integrity and real-world impact. A series of world cafés were conducted, collecting data on how researchers, their institutions, and network organisations can contribute to, and measure research aligned with the SDGs and targets. The results showed that participants were generally positive towards using the SDGs and targets to measure impact and quality of academic research. Suggestions to assist greater adoption of the SDGs and targets as a measure of impact included: aligning governmental and institutional funding; changing key performance indicators; increasing cross-disciplinary work; aligning mission/vision statements; and legitimising SDG-focused projects at conferences.