Towards an alternative framework for the evaluation of translational research initiatives

Jordi Molas-Gallart, Pablo D’Este, Óscar Llopis and Ismael Rafols
This paper will propose a framework for evaluating translational research by identifying the way in which translational research occurs in practice (rather than the formal linear stages in which the results of such process are typically presented). Following previous work on methods to evaluation science-society interactions, our approach will focus on the processes of TR and the ways in which public initiatives to support new ways of conducting research succeed or fail. Our starting point is that TR is expressed through complex cycles where knowledge is moving back and forth through the bedside-to-bench continuum across various channels, giving rise to complex interactions between research performers and the user of the results of such research. The approach is rooted on empirical context of IDIBAPS, a university-hospital joint institute in Barcelona, one of the European centre of excellence for TR, and a study on social networks and knowledge flows in the Spanish Biomedical Research Networking Centres (CIBERs). Further, we suggest that interactions between biomedical actors are less than optimal because the distances that separate these different groups make the interactions difficult. We end up by stating that learning processes and knowledge exchange interactions are facilitated and strengthened by five forms of proximity: cognitive, social, organisational, institutional and spatial.