Water Journal : Water Journal May 2013
Delivering innovative water, wastewater and reuse solutions. 8My Point of View underpin policy and decision-making in the State. To ensure that research results are taken up and used, it must be relevant and truly demand-driven. This requires a fundamental shift away from the traditional, incremental, supply-driven contributions to an overall body of knowledge. The excellence of applied research must be judged on the impact of the outcomes and not just on the outputs of a project. For a research broker such as the Goyder Institute, the challenge is to identify the impediments to the achievement of end-user outcomes. Stakeholders and end-user outcomes may often be formulated in terms of some very practical requirements or even aspirational targets. Extensive consultation with stakeholders is often necessary to identify the gaps in knowledge that are the root cause of impediments to outcomes. Only then is it possible to identify the speci c research activities that need to be undertaken in order to overcome these impediments. The best available science is the science that can actually be used to addresses the demands suf ciently within given timeframes and nancial limitations. Only demand-driven research satis es these requirements. For too long, the quality of research outputs has been measured based on the impact factor of the peer-reviewed journal in which it is published. The impact factor of an academic journal is a measure that re ects the average number of citations to recent articles published in the journal. This may indeed say something about the quality of the science in the eyes of other researchers, but says nothing about the true impact of the research in terms of usability and uptake in the real world. The current xation on journal impact factors seems to favour more fundamental type research to the detriment of applied research. However, true innovation only occurs when there is a fundamental change to the way we actually apply our knowledge. It only creates value through the successful application of new ideas and techniques by industry and other end-users. It is simply not good enough to spend years doing excellent research and then at the end of the project to start searching for problems to t the solutions (i.e. supply driven). Stakeholders and end-users must be engaged in research development from the very beginning, through project de nition, execution, prototyping and application. Simple cash contributions to research programs are insuf cient to guarantee full engagement with stakeholders. Likewise, the role of stakeholder reference groups must not be reduced to simple sounding boards whose job it is to absorb and blindly adopt the information presented to them. THE VALUE OF ROADMAPPING The practice of roadmapping is now a well-established technique to guide the process of demand-driven research. A roadmap details a timeline of activities to progress through research at increasing levels of maturity (i.e. time to application) to arrive at speci c outcomes and/or policy directions that have been identi ed by stakeholders and end-users. All ongoing research activities and proposed future research projects can demonstrate how they contribute to a speci c roadmap, and thus to a speci c strategic outcome or long-term goals. Most importantly, a roadmap articulates the speci c end-user requirements (i.e. outputs) in order to achieve desired outcomes. Constraints and external drivers can be clearly identi ed. It is then a simple matter to identify the gaps in knowledge and expertise between supply and demand. Research proposals developed to address the knowledge gaps identi ed in this way are truly demand-driven and help us answer the questions: Is the best science actually available? If not, can it be realistically developed in the time available? What alternatives are there? What level of science is "good enough" for a given outcome? In its rst three years of operation, the Goyder Institute for Water Research has demonstrated the value of research brokering and the effective use of roadmaps in the development of demand- driven research. The resulting applied research projects have been characterised by the rapid uptake of the results to achieve practical and strategic outcomes. In this way, the South Australian Government is indeed using the best available science through a cost-effective investment of taxpayers' dollars.
Water Journal April 2013
Water Journal June 2013