Medical Research Shifts from University Labs to Hospitals

Times Higher Education, September 3, 2015 | Go to article overview

Medical Research Shifts from University Labs to Hospitals


David Matthews on global analysis showing rise in impact of hospital studies as industry papers dip

Policies aimed at making scientific research more applicable to real-world problems have led to a global shift towards hospital-based medical research and away from university labs, a data analysis has suggested.

Since 2005, the proportion of publications in more practically focused medical journals has steadily increased as science has become more utilitarian.

That is according to Robert Tijssen, chair of science and innovation studies at Leiden University, who has looked at research conducted by the world's 750 top-ranked universities since 2000.

"We are seeing some real changes in that science is now driven by these issues of utility," he told Times Higher Education.

"This is primarily in the medical sector," he said. "Many [scientists] are focusing their research towards particular problems" rather than more abstract issues. "Overall this is a clue that world science is moving towards hospital research."

"What we are probably seeing is the outcome of policies...trying to make science more applicable to public needs and away from curiosity [driven research]," he said.

Last year, the UK's assessment of research quality - the research excellence framework - included a controversial "impact" assessment that aimed to measure the benefits of scholarship beyond academia.

Australia is considering whether to follow its lead, with 12 universities taking part in a 2012 trial to assess the impact of research.

Yet arguably the biggest change in world research since the turn of the century has been the rise of China as a research powerhouse, which may have helped to shift global science towards more utilitarian goals. …

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