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Co-creation: a new approach to optimising research impact?

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Bold new world offers researchers opportunity and challenge

Traditionally, academics benchmarked their success with metrics of publication such as journal impact factors or their personal h-index (a citation measure). Increasingly, researchers are required to demonstrate impact beyond academia.

In these challenging times, research funding is seen as an investment, and funders expect demonstrable returns in both monetary and societal terms (including morbidity, quality of life and economic benefit). The United Kingdom’s Research Excellence Framework now allocates 20% of its score, and linked public funding to universities, on the basis of demonstrated research impact. Australia’s recent Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research contained recommendations to “embed research in the health system” and “[strengthen] partnerships between researchers, healthcare professionals, governments and the community”.

The applied traditions of knowledge translation, research utilisation and implementation science have developed rapidly in recent years to inform how we achieve, measure and monitor research impact.1 But do they truly assist researchers to embed research into practice?

For traditional science-based enquiry, such approaches make sense. But they work less well for applied research, because their focus is on taking…