The use of research portfolios in science policy: Mapping research priorities against societal needs

Dr. Ismael Ràfols, Ingenio (CSIC-UPV) Universitat Polècnica de València; Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) University of Leiden; SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit) University of Sussex;

Science policy is increasingly shifting towards an emphasis on societal problems. As a result, new assessment tools are needed to help assess the articulation of research agendas with societal demands or needs. In this presentation, we show how the use of research portfolios can help in fostering the alignment between science supply and societal needs.


Improvements in data processing and visualization techniques, coupled with conceptual developments in risk analysis methods suggest that research portfolio approaches can also help in improving the performance of public R&D programs by identifying gaps and opportunities. They may also help in making more transparent the multiple goals of most public R&D programs – thus facilitating the alignment of research with its various welfare, environmental, security, and economic missions.

In this presentation we show how mapping methods to help identify research topics relevant for societal problems, such as obesity (Cassi et al. 2017), avian influenza (Wallace and Rafols, 2018), rice research, and disease research prioritisation in global health (Rafols and Yegros, 2018; Yegros et al., 2018).

For each issue, we first rely on bibliometric records and innovative mapping techniques to describe existing priorities in science production using various analytical schemes (biomedical or agricultural classifications, bottom-up co-word or topic modeling algorithms). Second, we look for policy datasets that can be used to capture (however partially) societal needs or concerns, such as EU parliament questions, WHO disease burden estimates, FAO economic data on rice uses. Third, we show how the comparison between the two sets of data may illuminate (mis)alignments between societal concerns and scientific outputs. We propose that this type of mapping methods can be useful to domain experts for informing strategic planning and evaluation in funding agencies.

About the speaker

I am a research fellow at Ingenio (CSIC-UPV, València), visiting professor at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) of Leiden University and associate faculty at SPRU (Univ. Sussex, Brighton), where I worked from 2004 to 2012. I investigate how to make a more plural and inclusive use of S&T indicators for informing evaluation, funding and research strategies. My two main research topics are inclusive metrics and priority setting in S&T.

I received an MSc in Science and Technology Policy from SPRU (Sussex), a BSc in Physics from the Univ. Barcelona, a PhD in biophysics from Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan) and was a postdoc in nanobiotechnology at Cornell University in 2001. In between academic positions, I have worked on international cooperation in Oxfam (1994) and the City Council of Barcelona (2003-04).

Venue: Conference room (0.16 & 0.17)

Date: 19 April 2018

Time: 12:00 - 13:00