Investigating the relationships between academic research output and impact to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Ivanova, Yoana (2020) Investigating the relationships between academic research output and impact to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


The need of new holistic methods for evaluating research quality and its relevance to policy and practice, has been a topic of increased international interest and a reason for new assessment frameworks to emerge. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are aligning their research strategies to global development priorities, reinforcing their fundamental role as generators of knowledge and drivers of innovation advancing the wider society. Extending the work of university networks globally, this research introduces an upgraded toolset for mapping and analysis of research output addressing topics around sustainability, as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The distinctive features of this study include triangulation of research methods (e.g. search query mining, quantitative data analysis, thematic analysis) and data sources, that enabled multidimensional analysis of research impact.

Explored were the linkages different University of Glasgow research output forms have to the SDG and the pathways to impact generated on macro (organisation) and micro (researcher) levels. The main findings suggest that the primary University research output links more prominently to SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG 15 (Life on Land), yet the different Colleges contribute towards a well-diversified research portfolio. The results also imply, that internal and external events like the first Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment have led to increased research activity, while at the same time the focus on a broad spectrum of socio-economic issues remained strong. Areas of mutual objectives and an effective internal collaborative network were also identified, signifying the role of interdisciplinary research in advancing action on the global socio-economic and environmental issues. This observation was further confirmed by the examination of the REF Impact Case Studies submitted by the University to the different Units of Assessment. Applying the Impact Type lens provided an alternative strategy for research output analysis and insight on the effect quality research has on local and international policy. The potential of Design Thinking tools to communicate and accelerate impact has also been examined in a co-creation workshop, during which new unrecognised pathways to research impact were outlined, showing the value of these tools in facilitation of knowledge transfer and targeted impact delivery.

Integrating different research practices and analytical approaches ultimately enriched the study findings and provided more solid base on which future research can be build. The findings indicate the non-linear way impact is generated, and the synergistic relationships between different research practises, reinforcing the idea that disciplinary boundaries might be impairing progressive research. The findings of this study can be used to aid future research on impact evaluation tools and knowledge dissemination planning.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: research impact, innovation, UN SDG, Sustainable Development Goals, quadruple helix, pathways to impact, crossing disciplinary boundaries, collaborations, research output, research metrics, data archiving, institutional repository, data mining and querying, triangulation research, impact appraisal tools, REF 2014, impact on policy and practice, Higher Education Institutes, crossdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, Design Thinking, knowledge exchange
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4050 Electronic information resources
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4450 Databases
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cancer Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Keith, Professor Nicol and Gadegaard, Professor Nikolaj
Date of Award: 2020
Embargo Date: 24 June 2021
Depositing User: Yoana Ivanova
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81475
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2020 09:43
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2020 09:43

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