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Table 3 Key drivers and reasons for assessments

From: Looking both ways: a review of methods for assessing research impacts on policy and the policy utilisation of research

Research impact assessments Research use assessments
Key factor driving assessments: Pressures to justify research expenditure by demonstrating that research has benefits beyond academia [5] Key factor driving assessments: Desire to improve policy outcomes through greater use of research in policy decisions (evidence-informed policy movement) [1]
Reasons for assessment:
Accountability:Quantify or describe the nature of research impact usually to demonstrate a return on investment for research funders or programmes of research [17, 21]
Advocacy: Demonstrate that research investments are worthwhile, current levels of research expenditure are justified or funding for an area of research is warranted or should be increased [1, 17, 21]
Allocate funding: Decide future research investments based on past research performance [1, 21]
Inform research systems: Provide information about likelihood of benefit for different types of research or funding strategies to inform future research system organisation [1, 5]
Understand research impact for learning and improvement: Identify factors associated with impact or lack of impact with a view to understanding how to influence change and develop better ways of delivering research impact [21, 42]
Develop assessment methods: Test methods of assessment with the goal of developing systems for assessing the benefits from research [14, 78]
Reasons for assessment:
Understand research use: describe nature and type of research use to determine how research is used to inform policy [20]
Benchmark or audit research use: Examine the extent of research use in policy-making or by policy agencies: for comparative purposes [22, 23]; to advocate for greater use of research in decision-making [40, 68, 143]; or to evaluate whether policy agencies had achieved their own goals in terms of developing evidence-informed policy [21, 33, 126]
Understand policy processes: Understand the many factors, including research, that are considered during policy-making with a view to understanding the role research plays in policy processes [129]
Understand research translation: Examine the research policy interface and identify factors associated with research use or lack of use in policy decisions with a view to identify strategies to increase research use [13, 19, 38, 139]