Excelencia científica y transferencia de conocimiento, ¿van de la mano? Factores organizativos, antecedentes individual y social

2014 to 2017

The main objective of this project is to investigate the conditions that favour the joint realization of scientific excellence and knowledge transfer among scientific researchers. The premise of the project proposal is that a better understanding of the complementarities between excellence and knowledge transfer could contribute to enhancing the economic and societal impact of publicly funded scientific research. While there has been a signficant amount of research on whether the pursuit of societal impact in academic research is detrimental or beneficial to research excellence, empirical studies have produced largely mixed and conflicting results. Therefore, the relationship between scientific excellence and knowledge transfer remains an open-ended research question, as well as a highly pressing topic within science and public policy agendas.

The project proposes to investigate three interconnected aspects that may promote the complementary pursuit of scientific excellence and social impact through knowledge transfer and application.

1) They are in an appropriate location. There might be specific contextual factors, such as having a supportive organisational climate or working in an interdisciplinary research team, that may facilitate complementarity between scientific excellence and knowledge transfer activities.

(2) They have a positive attitude. There could be specific individual antecedents, such as scientists motivations or prior experience, which promote a favourable attitude towards knowledge transfer that is positively associated with concurrent engagement in both the pursuit of excellence and social impact.

(3) They deal with relevant topics, in a constructive way, with effective partners. Societal impact may be determined by the type of knowledge that is produced, the mechanisms for knowledge transfer that are used, and the types of beneficiaries that these complementary activities address.

The project will address these issues by studying leading Spanish scientists from a wide spectrum of academic disciplines (from hard sciences, biomedical and engineering to social sciences and humanities), ensuring that the study has a transversal approach by cutting across multiple epistemic communities. Methodologically, the study will utilise a combination of quantitiatve and qualitative research methods, analysing both secondary data (e.g. bibliometrics and CVs) and primary data generated by a large scale survey and semi-structured interviews. The project will also interact with a range of stakeholders to incorporate their interests in the project design and execution and to share the results produced.

The project intends to inform research and social institutions regarding the optimum conditions for conducting high quality science that also contributes to social and economic development. By investigating the relationship between scientific excellence and knowledge transfer, this project is aligned with the Spanish Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (EESTI) (2013-2020). Under General Objective IV off the EESTI, research oriented to societal challenges, the project is targetted toward Specific Objective 16 Social Change and Innovation and Priority Axis 3 Transfer and Management of Knowledge, helping to foster the application and adaptation of scientific knoweldge into new technologies (National Strategy R&D+i: p.35). The project will thus make a significant contribution to the execution of this Strategy.

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