Prof. James Evans (pictured on the right), postdoctoral scholar, Brendan Chambers (pictured on the left) and PhD student, Donghyun Kang (pictured in the center), were awarded the IRIS Researcher Award for their project, titled, "Impact of strategic funding on research type and content".
Abstract: Academic ecologies need a diverse set of research programs: programs that receive few citations, but publish important research with long‐term effects; that publish anchoring paradigmatic work, or conversely, disruptive innovative work; programs driving interdisciplinary exchange. All of these qualities are important, even if sometimes at the cost of a lower H‐index or less immediate exposure. Simplified scalar measures fail to capture these multidimensional cultures of success. Stakeholders need richer signals so they can allocate strategic funding in a manner sensitive to existing institutional and organizational strengths. We propose, first, to refine an innovative framework rooted directly in published textual products, with multiple dimensions of measurement that can better accommodate diverse strategies for research impact. Linguistic influence within the broader publication record is a crucial and overlooked measure of research outcomes. To measure these implicit flows, we propose to map the semantic geography of collective academic production by compressing encodings of published abstracts, using state‐of‐the‐art deep contextual embedding methods. Our team has already deployed these methods at scale and validated their sensitivity to semantic structure—sensitivity not just to individual words, but to their composed, contextual meaning. Second, using our measures based on typologies within semantic space, we will measure significant factors at the coupling between funding portfolios and research outcomes. Finally, adapting methods to study causal influence in biological networks employed by members of our team, we will filter measured associations to identify a set of likely causal factors by which distinct funding portfolios support archetypical research strategies and outcomes.