What is “Innovation” & “Impact”?

Albrecht Schmidt & Niels Henze not available Sun, 11.03.2018

In this session, we discussed the question “What is impact and innovation” with regard to research.While quantitative metrics, such as citations, can be acquired easily, qualitative metrics, e.g. personal reviews are hard to obtain.

Activity 1: Speed dating – What is an impact of academic research?

In this exercise, every 2 participants discussed for 90 seconds what is the definition of “impact” and what makes a researcher “impactful”.

Activity 2: Brainstorming – What are the good metrics to judge a researcher?

In a group exercise (groups of 4), we came up with different metrics and assessed their importance with regard to impact and innovation.

Sample of the metrics
  1. being regarded as expert in X, your network (invited talks, conference engagements), established research areas
  2. quantitative metrics: citations, h-index, papers in X, …
  3. personal reviews of peers & superiors, teaching evaluations
  4. amount of money, fundings, grants

We found out, that all of the above metrics are connected and influenced by each other.The importance of each metric is highly dependent on the job you apply for, as in “what the hiring committee thinks are good metrics”. Moreover, those metrics are usually not visible a priori to prevent priming.

Activity 3: Select a sample innovative research from recent venues

In this activity, the participants were asked to select the most innovative paper they have seen recently in a conference and to highlight why did they select it.

Sample of the reasons
  1. Had social impact (had the potential to affect a lot of people)
  2. Pushing the limits of technology even if the motivation is not clear
  3. Incorporated new interactions between the real world and the artifact