The Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) is committed to technological innovation and understands the societal benefits that come from the translation of such research. As part of the translation agenda, CÚRAM researchers are investigating the impact orientation of principal investigators (PIs) undertaking publicly funded research in the medical device sector. While there is a growing body of empirical research on PIs, little is known about how PIs understand and conceptualise research impact, beyond the outcomes traditionally associated with academically focused research projects (i.e. scientific and economic outputs). However, as a key actor in the translation of research, the PI plays a vital role in bridging the translation gap (also sometimes referred to as the outcome-impact gap) and enhancing the potential broader impact of publicly funded research on society.  Addressing the translation gap is of particular importance in the medical device sector, given the vast potential of clinical and translational medical device research to positively impact patient care and patient quality of life.

Study Specifics

To better understand the impact orientation of PIs involved in medical device research, from basic to applied scientific fields, the study’s multidisciplinary research team is investigating the antecedent, project, organisational, and individual level factors that influence and enhance PI impact orientation. The study is using an innovative ecological approach from social sciences to conceptualise and map research impact and the micro- to macro-level stakeholders involved throughout the medical device translation process.

This research study adopts a mixed methods design. The first phase focused on CÚRAM PIs and explored their impact orientation through qualitative semi-structured interviews. Data was gathered on how impact is defined, understood, and achieved. The qualitative data of the first phase informed the development of a quantitative survey instrument that aims to explore the experiences, attitudes, behaviours and actions concerning impact of medical device PI’s based at elite, top-tier research centres.

The expected outcomes of this study include adding to the emerging bodies of research on PIs and impact, policy recommendations for government and funding bodies in terms of methods to engage more effectively with PIs to increase the impact potential of projects, training materials and workshops for PIs on impact, as well as academic publications.

2019 Study: The Impact Orientation of Principal Investigators

This study builds on a body of research that has been pioneered by members of this research team in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation that has focused on many aspects of scientist in the principal investigator role. This is an individual level study exploring principal investigators’ experiences, attitudes, behaviours and actions with respect to impact. The survey is not an examination of the wider organisation or Institute that the PI is affiliated to, but an exploration of the personal perspectives of PI’s based at leading Institutes in the medical research field with respect to their impact orientation.

Figure I Survey Overview

The survey consists of four sections, totalling thirty questions. The questions are informed by qualitative research recently conducted by Cúram researchers and empirically tested measures already used in the social sciences including – Resilience; Attitude to failure; Identity centrality; Passion; and Fear of failure.

Principal Investigator Research Publications: Translation Research