Within our work, we define impact broadly as the benefits achieved by using scientific evidence to improve public health, economic functioning, and human flourishing. In this context the EIC serves as the central hub for impact science at PSU—working across disciplines, colleges and institutes.
We accomplish this through:
- R&D around strategies that can augment and accelerate scientific impact
- Creating infrastructure to put these strategies into practice
- Engaging in education and outreach—around how to use these resources to optimize impact—with students, scholars, and decision-makers (e.g., policymakers, industry leaders, and research administration).
Underpinning our activities are values that involve innovation, justice, and transdisciplinary partnerships that are relevant, timely, and useful for achieving broad impact. Our efforts aim to combat the widespread disconnect between research activities and the needs of decision makers, to reduce barriers to collaboration and knowledge sharing, and prevent misuse of science and misinformation that threaten society and perpetuates inequity and injustice.
Why Care About the Impact of Scientific Research?
A number of ongoing crises illustrate the foundational importance of using scientific evidence in decision making (e.g., the opioid epidemic, responses to natural disasters, recognition of systemic inequity, and the COVID-19 pandemic). Yet, scientific inquiry often remains disconnected from the needs of decision-makers. Importantly, we recognize that how impact is defined by the scientific community must evolve to meet societal needs.
A central tenet of the EIC is recognizing that the level to which decision-makers value science is not fixed, but instead is malleable—subject to individual experience as well as social, economic and cultural forces. A core value of the EIC is that the scientific community has a responsibility to actively improve and demonstrate the value of scientific evidence—engaging with decision-makers in service to society.
To meet this responsibility, the EIC is working with scientists from across disciplines to build the the science of how we conduct science in order to increase the rate of socially beneficial discovery, improve the use of scientific evidence in decision-making and maximize its impact on society. The field goes by many names—such as ‘meta-Science’, ‘impact science’, “science of science”, ‘research-on-research,’ ‘use of research evidence’—and is comprised of numerous sub-domains (e.g., knowledge translation, bibliometrics, scientometrics, as well as related regulatory, translational, dissemination, and implementation sciences).
These transdisciplinary endeavors are increasing the pace of innovation and timeliness of R&D, as well as improving the use of research by decision-makers in an effort to increase public health, societal well-being, and ultimately save lives. The EIC offers a home for inquiry into the science of science with an explicit aim of improving the quality and impact of research.
Our Vision for the Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative
The Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative was formed to provide a home for researchers across disciplines to develop the methods, processes, and strategies that can enhance societal value for and the impact of science—incubating science of science efforts at Penn State and partnering to improve the relevance of scientific evidence broadly.
A cross-cutting theme of the EIC is our adoption of a social-ecological perspective rooted in human development. Specifically, our fundamental hypothesis that scientific discovery, use of scientific evidence, and subsequent scientific impact (or lack thereof) is an inherently socio-behavioral phenomena that undergoes developmental processes within individuals, organizations, and systems.
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