Published August 16, 2021 | Version 1
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Policy Brief, Issue 8/SIPER database, the increasing role of studies on social & environmental impacts.

  • 1. Fraunhofer ISI


The topic of impact is high on the agenda of national and European research policy. Research and innovation funders, as well as research organizations and individual researchers are increasingly asking themselves what contribution science and innovation can or should make to politics, society, culture and the economy (Wilsdon et al. 2015, Reale et al. 2015, Bornmann 2013, Bloch et al. 2014, Spaapen & van Drooge 2011, Joly et al. 2015, Martin & Tang 2007). Whereas the analysis of scientific, technological and economic impacts has a long tradition including dedicated (academic and practitioner) communities and metrics, the field of social and environmental impact studies is comparatively new and needs further work on a common understanding of main concepts and indicators. Given the multitude of challenges of impact analyses, this policy brief presents current reflections about which kinds of impacts play the most important role in recent evaluation studies and what methodological and conceptual approaches exist that are used to capture impacts. Of particular interest is the question of the social impacts[1] of research and innovation that gained attention in view of the debate on the role of research and innovation in achieving social goals and solving global challenges. In addition, the researchers analyze studies that investigate environmental impacts as this kind of studies gained importance due to a stronger orientation of research and innovation policy towards broader missions and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

[1] The SIPER codebook used the term „social“ impacts whereas the term “societal” is often used in evaluation practice. The difference between "societal impacts" and "social impacts" has not (yet) been answered uniformly (European Commission 2018).


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RISIS 2 – European Research Infrastructure for Science, technology and Innovation policy Studies 2 824091
European Commission