Current Students Info

Roads to Research: Dr. Belcher & Shilpa Soni

February 23, 2016
Source: Crossroads

The Office of Research Services is pleased to invite you to a Roads to Research presentation by Brian Belcher and Shilpa Soni from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, 2016 in the Quarterdeck.

Their presentation is titled: Assessing Research Effectiveness in RRU Graduate Research Projects

Brian Belcher is the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Sustainability Research Effectiveness at RRU. This role is given to outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields. Shilpa Soni works with Brian as research analyst in the CRC program. This Roads to Research presentation will review their study of current graduate research at RRU to see if it is effectively contributing to solution-oriented and real-world focused transformative change.

All are welcome to attend the presentation, including the public. Coffee and cookies will be served. Please bring your lunch.

We hope you will join us for this highly relevant review of Brian Belcher’s groundbreaking work.


As part of a larger effort to characterize the RRU research model in practice, we conducted a review of RRU student theses and major projects (hereafter referred to as theses) to assess research design and implementation from the perspective of research effectiveness. The research question was: Does RRU graduate research reflect the espoused RRU model of applied, solution-oriented and real-world focused research? Previously, we conducted a systematic review of the literature to identify appropriate principles and criteria for defining and assessing inter- and transdisciplinary research. In the current work we refined and applied the resulting “Quality Assessment Framework” (QAF) in a review of RRU Masters and Doctoral research projects completed between 2005 and July 2015. The QAF considers four principles and constituent criteria: relevance, including social significance and applicability; credibility, including criteria of integration and reflexivity, added to traditional criteria of scientific rigour; legitimacy, including criteria of inclusion and fair representation of stakeholder interests, and; effectiveness, with criteria that assess actual or potential contributions to problem-solving and social change. A total of 492 abstracts available in the RRU thesis database were reviewed and classified based on whether they had an identified impact pathway; that is, whether they indicated what the research aimed to contribute, who would use it and how the researcher/project would facilitate application and/or utilization of the research. Only 34 theses abstracts (6.9%) were classified as having implicit or explicit impact pathways. These projects were selected for full review and scoring against the TDR QAF. A further 9 projects were eliminated during the full document review due to insufficient impact pathways, leaving just 25 (5.1%) classified as having implicit or explicit impact pathways. Some individual programs produced relatively high proportions of high scoring theses (e.g. MACAM with over 16%) and others had low representation (e.g. MEM with less than 2%). QAF scores, reflecting the degree to which projects applied theoretically-derived good principles and approaches in their design and implementation, ranged from a low of 27 up to 94 out of a maximum of 100. The low proportion of RRU graduate research projects exhibiting good application of principles and criteria of research effectiveness suggests that there is large scope for improvement in teaching and supervising graduate students interested in doing applied, solution-oriented and real-world focused research. This presentation will provide an overview of the QAF and the assessment method employed, summarize the results and discuss the lessons learned.