Research performance evaluation: the experience of an independent medical research institute.
Schapper CC., Dwyer T., Tregear GW., Aitken M., Clay MA.
BACKGROUND: Evaluation of the social and economic outcomes of health research funding is an area of intense interest and debate. Typically, approaches have sought to assess the impact of research funding by medical charities or regional government bodies. Independent research institutes have a similar need for accountability in investment decisions but have different objectives and funding, thus the existing approaches are not appropriate. METHODS: An evaluation methodology using eight indicators was developed to assess research performance across three broad categories: knowledge creation; inputs to research; and commercial, clinical and public health outcomes. The evaluation approach was designed to provide a balanced assessment across laboratory, clinical and public health research. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: With a diverse research agenda supported by a large number of researchers, the Research Performance Evaluation process at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has, by necessity, been iterative and responsive to the needs of the Institute and its staff. Since its inception 5 years ago, data collection systems have been refined, the methodology has been adjusted to capture appropriate data, staff awareness and participation has increased, and issues regarding the methodology and scoring have been resolved. CONCLUSIONS: The Research Performance Evaluation methodology described here provides a fair and transparent means of disbursing internal funding. It is also a powerful tool for evaluating the Institute's progress towards achieving its strategic goals, and is therefore a key driver for research excellence.