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Enhancing Research Impact in Heritage Conservation

Journal article
Authors T. Katrakazis
A. Heritage
C. Dillon
P. Juvan
Stavroula Golfomitsou
Published in Studies in Conservation
Volume 63
Issue 8
Pages 450-465
ISSN 0039-3630
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Conservation
Pages 450-465
Language en
Keywords Research impact, knowledge exchange, stakeholder participation, research collaboration, needs, Archaeology, Art, Chemistry, Spectroscopy, CfE Consortium, 2015, Full Report
Subject categories Chemistry, Archaeology


This paper examines how research impact is defined, measured, and generated - with a view to understanding how it can be enhanced within heritage conservation. It examines what is meant by impact' and how it can be promoted within heritage science through effective inter-disciplinary collaboration. Following a general examination of the current discourse concerning research impact, the study examined: (i) active research networks within heritage science; (ii) research planning and evaluation practices within heritage science; and (iii) the experiences of users (i.e. conservators and other heritage professionals) within research collaborations. Terminologies surrounding the notion of impact and the various phases of the research process were reviewed - from the initial identification of a knowledge gap to the eventual application of new findings in practice. Next, the reach and diversity of research collaborations (as identified through publication co-authorship) were studied to characterise the inter-disciplinary nature of heritage science and its connectedness to users. Findings showed substantial growth in international research collaborations over recent years, predominantly involving academic- and research-oriented institutions - although the engagement of heritage institutions has proportionally decreased. In addition, a worldwide survey of institutional planning and evaluation practices revealed a general reliance on processes driven by the interests of researchers - the systematic consideration of stakeholder opinion and evaluation of research outcomes being less common. Finally, a series of semi-structured interviews with senior heritage professionals explored their experience of collaborative research. The results identified key areas where strategic support is needed to promote user participation and enhance impact. These include training for research readiness, engagement, and impact for both researchers and users; better methods for needs and outcome assessment; affordable open access options and greater diversity of knowledge exchange opportunities. Finally, the need for ethical guidelines for responsible research, and greater emphasis on non-academic impact within research rating systems are discussed.

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