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Digital Science report highlights structural diversity

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Digital Science and the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex have highlighted the importance of structural diversity to enable a sustainable research base.

Structural diversity in the academic environment refers to having multiplicity and disparity of subject areas, institutions and support mechanisms in research. Digital Science says the report expands and explains the conceptualisation of structural diversity and also talks about how diversity contributes to a flexible and responsive research base.

The main discussion points in the report, The Value Of Structural Diversity, are:

  • Structural diversity needs as much attention as research performance when governments assess a ‘strong’ research base;
  • Structural diversity not only produces great research today but provides the flexible capacity and responsive capability that addresses new challenges tomorrow;
  • The report develops the concept of structural diversity ­ the diversity of disciplines, institutions and support mechanisms ­ in the context of research management and interprets that diversity via new graphical visualisation;
  • Analysis, via a new network map of the REF 2014 impact case studies, shows that structural diversity is associated with innovative and impactful research outcomes;
  • Structural diversity is also revealed across institutions in a SPRU analysis that suggests conventional evaluations based on bibliometrics have undervalued the contribution of diversity to fostering interdisciplinary outcomes; and
  • Structural diversity across countries enables countries like the UK to maintain many disciplines and then switch resources to them when priorities change.

Jonathan Adams, chief scientist at Digital Science, said: 'Structural diversity in research is a key attribute for leading economies and institutions. It has been criminally understudied and undervalued, but it is the substance that forms our ability to tackle innovation.'

The report can be downloaded via the Digital Science company Figshare here.