Measuring success when supporting biomedical research can be difficult. This is particularly relevant if there is no predetermined agreement of what success looks like or no strategy to guide how you contribute to the larger picture.
Often governments, researchers and the community use terms such as ‘bench to bedside’ (beginning and end) when considering the benefits of medical research, focussing on the translational successes. Whilst this can help to support long-term policy it doesn’t necessarily inform those supporting research to help them do a better job.
Many funders of biomedical research are at the other end of the scale, measuring only short term, project-related activities without reference to the larger ecosystem that will deliver mid-term or long-term successes. Some funders may even simply seek reports and look for benefits or good news stories after the fact with the primary goal of supporting fundraising.
Of course there is always the difficulty of capturing the long-term information when your research support may have ended many years earlier.
Another approach is to understand how your support fits into the overall pathway of delivering community benefits. By taking this strategic approach, it is possible to have targeted measures and milestones to support continual improvement activities and your communications with stakeholders. This approach can also support researchers by asking them to report on items that are relevant and important only, and not to measure for the sake of measurement.
By taking a strategic approach, supporters of medical research may be able to identify further needs and opportunities to assist their grant recipients and form partnerships that truly value-add beyond the dollar.