When creating a research project, it is quite important to take into consideration many different factors that not only may influence the outcomes of the study itself, but as well how and in what way it may bring a change into the discipline. Thus, it is quite prominent to create a portfolio that lists hierarchically your project priorities and to consider their impact and contribution in a wider societal perspective and researcher’s closest environment. To be able to do so you may profit quite considerably from an information of a good quality. Obtaining such a knowledge will be helpful in broadening your academic horizon providing useful information on the maximization of your research outcomes.
According to LSE Public Policy Group (2011), research impact is defined as an auditable/ recorded opportunity to influence other actor or organization by an academic study. It is usually weighted by an active consultation, citation, referencing, use of a research partially or discussion. Nowadays, despite of many impact measurement possibilities, it is usually tracked by a digital footprint which is, i.e. supervising how often people cite various parts of done research in their own work.
Two most prominent ways of a research impact are:
- Academic impact – the main influence is focused upon another researcher, university organization or academic author. It is mostly measured by citation indicators and allows to trace expertise or flows of an researcher himself or one’s whole portfolio of done work.
- External impact – when an audience (actor or an organization) of a non-academic origin is reached, i.e. government agency, civil society, or business corporation. Those kinds of impacts can take form mostly of a citation, discussion, or references (i.e. in specialist media outlets, involvement of academics in government’s decision-making process, speeches/statements of authoritative actors).
Universities themselves focus mostly on ‘journal impact factors’ (JIFs). This method refers to the process of counting how many academics cite a specific journal’s output, or, in a worst case scenario, on creating lists (usually subjective ones) of journals that are considered to be ‘bad’ or ‘good’. Thus, it is assumed that the work published in a journal is as good as the journal itself. Usually, it is not taken into consideration that published works are very varied and some turn out to be more influential than other ones. This usually takes place in social sciences where JIFs scores do not exceed the score 2.0 (this means that each article from a journal is cited by two other articles averagely within two years after they are published).
Tools tracking citation rates
The number of available tools for tracking citation rates is considerably growing. It may be even said that there are some ways to measure one’s research impact quite reliably and efficiently now by:
- A combination of three tools – Harzing’s Publish or Perish, Google Scholar, and the ISI Web of Knowledge. Those systems cover most of academic outputs and may provide a reliable data and analysis on citation rates (it is found to be the most reliable combination for humanities and social sciences and is the most recommended one).
- Creation of a distinctive author name – it may be really helpful in being distinguished from a huge number of information and authors accumulated on a global scale.
- The usage of a conventional citation-tracking systems – i.e. ISI WOK or Scopus (they may be found useful, BUT have considerable limitations for humanities and social sciences).
Now, one question still remains. How do we improve our citation rates? The answer is rather simple. However, we should follow and keep in mind few, simple steps:
- Make sure that title names of your study are informative and memorable, and abstracts include all of the ‘take-away’ and ‘bottom’ points.
- Titles included in book publications should remain distinctive yet still possible to be easily reached in a general search that concerns the subject.
- Self-citations should remain in line with other academics’ work from the same discipline.
- It is worth to cooperate and co-author. Why? Because it creates more networking perspectives, especially if the research team derives from different universities or countries. Thus, the outcomes may be distributed more widely.
So, creating and tracking a research impact may demand a lot of effort, reconsideration, and time. Is it worth it? Of course! By doing so one may not only create better projects and academic outputs, but as well learn how to reach different kinds of audience and make a difference on a societal level. This, in turn, may trigger more dynamic development of disciplines and influence societal progress. Thus, by creating an impact, we can make a considerable change.
LSE Public Policy Group (2011). Maximizing the impacts of your research: A handbook for social scientists. Retrieved from http://www2.lse.ac.uk/government/research/resgroups/LSEPublicPolicy/Docs/LSE_Impact_Handbook_April_2011.pdf
Magdalena Eliza Kossowska is an MA graduate from Catholic University of Lublin, Interfaculty Individual Studies in the Humanities College, Psychology Institute in Poland. She has volunteered for various NGOs (including EFPSA, AEGEE, Polish Psychologists Association), and participated in scholarships in Prague, Czech Republic; Tromso, Norway; and London, United Kingdom. Besides contributing in JEPS Bulletin, she also works with Association for Polish Psychology Development ANOVA. She is interested in organisational, clinical, as well as cognitive psychology.