Evaluating the impact of research

drahomira-hermannovaIt took some time for Drahomira Hermannova to see the value of her research topic, but now she thinks it is the best topic she could ever choose: using text and data mining to evaluate which research can change the world. Not only can this help scientists, it may change the way research is done altogether.

“There is so much funding going into research, and it’s important to understand if it actually was useful for anything. So if we produce something that can change the world, eventually, it’s really hard to prove that the research actually does this.

So this is what my research is about. I’m trying to understand how we can evaluate the impact of research. And how we can show to people: ‘Look, this is what you actually paid for with your tax money and it proved to be really incredible. We will develop new cures.’ or something like this.

When I started my PhD in England, I didn’t see the value in it. I spent the full first year of my PhD trying to understand why it actually is important. And eventually, after this one year, I looked back and I thought: I’m actually doing the best topic I could ever choose. I absolutely love it. I think it has the potential to change the world, even though it may be just a little.

This is really exciting for me. So I’m using text and data mining to point out which research is really great. And I think that it can help other researchers and it can change the way research is done.

So eventually I got really excited about it, and I’m really proud that I do this. And what I really appreciate about my topic, is that -I haven’t realized this before- but all the world’s knowledge is in research papers. And all we need to do is just to get access to them and start working with text and data mining methods and get new information from that. If all the world’s knowledge is in text, all we need is just people and time and methods to do it. And we need people working with it. So I think that I would absolutely encourage everyone to start doing this.”

Related links:

Hermannova and Knoth,  An Analysis of the Microsoft Academic Graph, DLib magazine, October 2016.