Improving the Value of Transport Research using Advanced Web Tools to Improve Research Dissemination :
“This paper aims to measure the impact of a thematic digital research repository on spreading new knowledge research into the professional transport community using user survey findings for the SORT (Social Research in Transport) Clearinghouse (www.sortclearinghouse.info) website and a review of previous research.
Research dissemination, the circulation of research findings, has been identified as the easiest way to distribute new knowledge and thematic research clearinghouses such as SORT have been seen as a means to „reinvigorate professional values‟ by providing quick access to quality research whilst also maintaining copyright protections to authors and publishers. SORT was developed out of the concern that social research findings in transport were not reaching the wider non-academic professional community. Some 1,777 separate users from 69 countries accessed the site on 3,282 visits in the first 11 months of 2009 for an average visit length of 5 minutes.
The user survey of SORT identified that policy/practitioners and consultants were the primary users of the web site (66%) with academics (27%). Most site users apply the research content accessed from SORT for „conceptual‟ applications (i.e. to keep informed). A very high share of users cite research evidence in their own published work (27% of academics) supporting previous research suggesting that research clearinghouses add much value to authors, journal editors and publishers. „Instrumental‟ use of research (to implement a transport plan, policy or service) represented a minority of uses (20% on average) nevertheless this is considered quite a reasonable outcome from a targeted dissemination approach. Some 40% of policy/practitioners used the research from SORT for „instrumental‟ purposes and this group represents half of the user base suggesting a strong real world application of the
research content in SORT. Support for this conclusion is provided from user ratings of the importance
of SORT to user occupational activities. Overall 56% of all users (65% of professional/practitioners)
considered SORT essential/very essential to their work.
Overall the findings provide some strong support for the view that thematic research clearinghouses might have an important role to play in bridging the gap between quality academic research published in research journals and professional practitioners planning and operating transport systems.”
URL : http://www.civil.ist.utl.pt/wctr12_lisboa/WCTR_General/documents/01342.pdf