Aligning scientific impact and societal relevance: the roles of academic engagement and interdisciplinary research

19/06/2019 to 21/06/2019
DRUID 19 Copenhagen
Scientific findings from publicly-funded research are increasingly expected to demonstrate both
scientific impact and societal relevance. Scientific impact is associated with achieving recognition within
the community of scientists; while societal relevance is related to the capacity to respond to the needs
of non-academic audiences. Despite the advocacy of policy discourses, the pursuit and achievement of
this dual mission face important challenges. The logics governing the production of research findings
with scientific impact may substantially differ from (and often conflict with) the mechanisms underlying
the generation of findings that achieve societal relevance. This paper investigates factors associated
with knowledge production processes that contribute to reconcile and align these two missions. First,
we examine whether academic engagement in research interactions with non-academic actors
contribute to attenuate the potential tensions between scientific and societal goals, by shaping
scientists’ cognition, skills and attitudes. Second, we investigate whether scientists who exhibit a
stronger involvement in interdisciplinary research approaches are particularly capable to achieve
greater performance in both scientific impact and societal relevance. Our findings suggest that the
involvement in joint research with non-academic actors and in interdisciplinary research teams
contribute positively to the scientific researchers’ capacity to jointly reach societal relevance and
scientific impact from public science.
Copenhagen (Denmark)
Pablo D'Este, Irene Ramos-Vielba, Nicolas Robinson-García