From Inputs to Impacts: Assessing and Communicating the Full Value of Biomedical Research

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Assessing and communicating the full value of biomedical research is essential to answer calls from the government and the public demanding accountability for the spending of public funds. In academic settings, however, research success is measured largely in terms of grant funding received or the number of peer-reviewed publications produced. These credible and time-tested metrics miss the full picture of the scientific process, which continues to confer benefits to patients, communities, and the health care system well after an article is published. In this context, in 2012, the Association of American Medical Colleges, in collaboration with RAND Europe, initiated a program to provide resources and guidance for leaders of medical schools and teaching hospitals interested in evaluating—in novel ways complementary to traditional methods—the outcomes and impacts of the research that emanates from their institutions. This Perspective provides context for this initiative and delineates the process through which researchers, evaluation experts, and other stakeholders—including legislators, health system leaders, and community members—identified and vetted novel “metrics that matter” in advance of a pilot test at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which sought to assess and communicate its community-engaged science and scholarship.

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