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Understanding and communicating research impact: the needs of STEM and health sciences faculty and postdoctoral researchers

Academic performance Academic writing Research impact Research institutes STEM education United States of America

This 2019–2020 project explored University of Washington (UW) faculty and postdoctoral researcher needs for understanding and communicating the impact of their work. The project focused on researchers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and health sciences fields. The project was designed to understand the challenges researchers face in this area, identify how participants in these fields define and measure impact, and explore their priorities for research-impact support. The project team at the UW Libraries conducted a survey and follow-up interviews to investigate these questions.

Results suggest that early-career researchers in particular are interested in assistance not only in identifying metrics to demonstrate impact, but assistance with interpreting and contextualising these metrics for promotion-and-tenure packages and funding applications. Researchers are also attempting to reach a variety of audiences (both scholarly and public) and face challenges in reaching different audiences and understanding their wider impact. There are currently gaps in support for researchers in this area, and many opportunities exist for helping researchers understand and communicate how their work makes a difference not only to scholarship in their fields, but also to policy, clinical practice, and wider public understanding of scientific and health issues.

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