Luisa Veras De Sandes Guimarães
Doctorate – Society's challenges have no boundaries: Impact of interdisciplinary academic research on public policies
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Guilherme Ary Plonski
Comission: Profs. Drs. Raquel Velho, Elizabeth Balbachevsky and Paulo Hilario Nascimento Saldiva
The impact of research on society (societal impact) is an issue that has been widely discussed over the last decade with the concern, on one hand, with the social return of public funding for science and, on the other hand, due to the apprehension regarding the inclusion of this type of impact for research evaluation and funding priorities. In the field of public policy, in particular, the issue of research impact is related to the movement of using evidence to inform public policies (evidence-informed policy making). In general, in discussions on the impact of research on society, interdisciplinary research is highlighted for its potential to solve complex problems. Some scholars argue that interdisciplinary research has a greater impact when compared to research conducted in a disciplinary context. In this sense, the main objective of this research was to characterize the impact of academic research, carried out in interdisciplinary groups, on public policies in the Brazilian context. To this end, a qualitative study was conducted using the multiple case study method with six research and study groups from the Institute of Advanced Studies (IEA) of the University of São Paulo (USP). The groups and participants chosen for the interview were selected on the basis of two aspects: 1) diversity of knowledge areas (based on the member’s fields of education and work); 2) the participation of representatives of public policy in the group. Thirty interviews were conducted with members of these groups, as well as the collection of documentary data on the groups and their members, seeking indications of the groups’ impact on public policies, the coproduction of knowledge and the means of generating interdisciplinary knowledge. For the characterization of the impact, the conceptual model proposed by Weiss (1979) was used, which proposes a representation of the use of the research considering three categories: conceptual, instrumental and symbolic. The key findings of this research can be grouped into three main dimensions: 1) greater prevalence of conceptual impact in all groups; 2) instrumental impacts are more prevalent in groups with a greater diversity of disciplines in their composition and that co-produce knowledge with actors in the public policies sphere; 3) impact depends on the researchers' perceptions about the dialogue with the field of public policies and the perception of the contribution of research to this sphere.
*Abstract provided by the author