Science quality and research impact study – Advisory Service on Agricultural Research for Development (BEAF)

Science-Metrix was contracted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to perform a bibliometric assessment of roughly 130 research projects funded by the Advisory Service on Agricultural Research for Development (BEAF). These projects were carried out at 17 international agricultural research centers (IARCs) between 2001 and 2019. The study had the following aims:

  1. assess the quality and impact/influence of BEAF-supported publications within academic circles (e.g., Are the research outputs being further developed/adapted by peers or the original authors of the studies?);
  2. uncover the thematic content of the produced outputs in relation to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and
  3. investigate the cost-efficiency with which BEAF-supported publications were produced.

The assessment used close to 900 peer-reviewed publications produced by BEAF-supported projects and indexed in Scopus. A data set of publications on agricultural research for development was created to capture information on leading research organizations in the thematic space of greatest relevance to BEAF. For example, this data set was used to identify the 15 most publishing research institutions in agricultural research for development as well as the relevant publications of an additional 15 institutions identified by GIZ staff as sharing similar priorities to BEAF. Other publications by the IARCs, not funded by BEAF, were also used for comparison purposes. For the cost-effectiveness analysis, research projects funded by the European Commission’s Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development (FP7 and H2020) were used to contextualize BEAF’s figures, more so than to offer a robust benchmark. The study’s key findings were as follows:

  • The BEAF lead in terms of scientific impact was nearly systematic across the selected indicators and most of the comparator groups. The sub-findings listed below illustrate the strong influence of the research supported by BEAF, at least as measured through citation-based indicators.
    • BEAF scientific impact was generally consistent with the aggregate figure for the group of 15 institutions of similar priority.
    • BEAF’s performance in impact was notable when publications produced by the IARCs but not supported by BEAF were used as reference.
    • BEAF impact was higher than that of research in the same topics of prominence.
  • The BEAF degree of international collaboration stood out from that of most of the comparators, except for the other IARC publications, which scored similarly. One compelling factor to explain such performance could be that BEAF research takes advantage of the existing IARC networks, which would result in both groups scoring similarly and above the comparators for this dimension.
  • BEAF publications scored above world level and similarly to all comparator groups for share of open access (OA) publications.
  • The content analysis revealed that BEAF and the IARCs were more aligned to the content of the SDGs compared with the top institutions and the institutions of similar priority.

Read the report here [PDF].

Read an interview about the project with Raphael Nawrotzki (GIZ) and David Campbell (Science-Metrix).

For more information about GIZ, see here.

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