Research is the biggest contributing and influential element in the development of any sector or discipline in the world. There are immeasurable number of researches are carried out in the globe on the interest of socio-cultural, economic and environmental development relevant to numerous sectors and disciplines in the world. Unexceptionally, in Sri Lanka also a [...]


Responsible research innovation (rri) and 8 ‘i’ folded integrated research and development


Research is the biggest contributing and influential element in the development of any sector or discipline in the world. There are immeasurable number of researches are carried out in the globe on the interest of socio-cultural, economic and environmental development relevant to numerous sectors and disciplines in the world. Unexceptionally, in Sri Lanka also a large number of researches are carried out by the academics, researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate with diverse interested related different sectors and disciplines. Yet, impacts of those researches in the development process of the country are very rarely sensed or witnessed by the practitioners and policy makers except researchers or scientists in further research endeavours.

Research Innovations (RI) has contributed to the growth of scientific knowledge and scientists from different disciplines, nevertheless every research interest is envisioned with impact on the future development in the related sectors and disciplines. Although interests on issues and commitment led the people to carry out the researches, which never reach to yield or create impact on the real development process of the country. The holistic and integrated journey of research and development from interest to impact has been interrupted or curtailed in half of the way. RRI in nurturing of policies and practices through 8 ‘I’ folded integrated research and development process begins with interest of research and ends with impact of research. This cyclical process also opens the avenues at end for future research as shown in the shown in the blow figure.

Professor (Dr.) M.S.M. Aslam Professor in Tourism Management Department of Tourism Management Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka

The above figure shows the integrated research and development process ideally but in the real world majority of research journey ended up with presentation or publication RI in written form in any of scientific communication channels. When a country ignores and devalue the research and scientific knowledge integrations, the development process possibly an imitation or just following the global trend without our own solution or innovation for emerging challenges. One of the primary objectives of state sponsored education system is to contribute the development process to build the nation. Disintegration between RI and development process never allow the nation to overcome the socio-cultural, environmental and economic challenges sustainably. As ‘imitation is suicide’- (Emerson), never country can move forward through imitative process. Undeniably, the nation requires RRI in nurturing integrated research and development process while preventing myths and myopia. When the public sponsored education systems and research outputs do not create impacts in the development process of the country, it is similar to wasted water to irrigate an unprofitable farm field. The nation should be directed and guided by the RRI through innovative and implementable solutions and strategies. This compels the academics, researchers including postgraduate and undergraduate students to amplify their research interests with nation building and carry on the research journey to create impacts in the sustainable development process that embraces with triple bottom lines; people, planet and prosperity.  This requires a comprehensive understanding on 8 ‘I’s for smooth and consistent transition of RRI into integrated research and development process.

Interests on Research:  Only the interest on a research leads someone to initiate research project. ‘Began with end in mind’- (Stephan R. Covey), the interest at the beginning of the research inspire the researcher through the impacts of RI on socio-culture, economy and/or environment. However, majority of researchers’ objectives are fulfilling the academic requirement and accomplishing the commitment rather than inspired interest in finding solution or RI. When the interest of researchers focused on RRI for socio-economic transformation and/or environmental concern, the research works will be obsessed with implication, implementation and impacts of research. This would lead the researchers to understand the holistic process of research that begins from interest and ends with impacts on the development process. Finding an area of research interest in relevance with developmental needs or challenges will be a stepping stone in integrating research and development process. Unexceptionally, in Sri Lanka also most of the research interests over the issues in every sector and all different disciplines are rationalized and justified with significance with reference to academic, policies and practices.

Issue of Research:  A researchable issue is the cornerstone of research process. This enables the researcher to observe a condition, contradiction, mismatch, gap or discontinuation etc. in the area of research interest. Although interested research area may be fascinating and very broad, without a well-defined research issue it may not be strong enough or likely to be unfocused and unmanageable.  When a researcher fails to identify a clear research issue from the interested area, that also lead to repeat the research or over beaten the same track to reinvent the wheel.  A researcher needs a clear research problem in order to do a research that contributes new and relevant insights. Most of the researches and academics in Sri Lanka find a very clear research issue/problem to do researches in every sector and discipline. Identifies research issues also highly significant and commendable to fill the gap or eliminate the contradiction and mismatch.

Insight of Research:  A thorough insight on the research issue should be built through a holistic view of a context where the research issue deals with. The environment spans all of the policies, institutions and processes, including the private sector, the demographics, and the social, cultural environmental and economic aspects of life in the specific area. It does not have a sector focus but rather looks at all aspects of people’s lives, with a particular focus on the extreme poor groups in a given context. This holistic contextual analysis will provide the necessary information in order to determine core and complimentary connecting factors and figures in and around the research issue. This broader insight on the research issue prepares the researcher for an effective investigation.  As the country failed to embrace with research and scientific knowledge integrated development process, in the contemporary context the researchers undergo various challenges and difficulties to build a good insight and broaden understanding over the research issues. This makes researchers to build insights through global context pertaining to the issue.

Investigation of Research: The broader insight of the research issue enables the investigation of research through conceptualisation, operationalisation and analysis. This may be quantitative; deductive investigation or qualitative; inductive investigation. Investigation is the basic process of gathering information to think about and analyse before making judgement and decision as a written statement. Investigation of the research can happen in library work, in field work, and in the laboratory work. This will be underlined by the nature of research issue or problem that is transformed into investigative research questions. Investigation process of research is identified as research design that consists of questions, site, concepts and methods. Different types of the information will be provided in a format that appropriate to the research design. This emphasises the investigation of research in our homeland with appropriate research designs to anticipate the opportunities and overcome the challenges through RI. Thus, Sri Lankan researchers carry out researches through exploratory, descriptive or causal research designs indifferent to other parts of the world. They also use the very popular and established methods, tools and techniques for data collections and analysis. This investigation process lead to derive key finding and results as RI.

Innovation/Information of Research: Written statement after the investigation of research embraces with usable information and innovative solutions. This may be in the form of new knowledge/theories, unveiling single or multiple truths, revitalisation of existing knowledge/theories, cause and effects or relationship between variables etc. Usually researches are expected provide potential solutions for the existing or emerging problems or opportunities. Although traditionally information and innovation are generally focused of socio-economic transformation of societies, in recent past concerns over the social, ethical and environment also have been heated up in the research and social discourses. Growing social disparity and devastation of environment posed the innovation at the critical juncture. Sri Lanka also produce a large number or research and innovation in each and every sector.  This led to increase the scientific knowledge and scientists in each and every sector and discipline. Yet, incorporation of research and innovation in public policies and practice or business development of the country is prolonged question, remaining without proper answers. Especially public universities possess a large number of scientists in various disciplines and they bring forth wealthiest Research and Innovation (RI) frequently as potential solutions with implications. Seldom they are absorbed or incorporated with development. The commitment on research is limited to academic achievement and dissemination of RI only through scientific communication channels which are academic conferences, conference proceedings, journals, monograph or books. Usually other public and private sector stakeholders, especially in Sri Lanka do not access to any scientific sources or libraries. Meanwhile, researchers are not required to play any responsible to disseminate and integrate the stakeholders for the implementation of RI. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) inevitably requires the researchers to disseminate and integrate the stakeholders for the implementation. Otherwise only the written statement of the RI will never be in policies, practice or in business development.

Integration of Research and Development: Research is responsible for the innovation/information and development is responsible for the capitalisation of innovation and information.  A sustainable nation building process inevitably demand the integration between research and development in a country. Yet, both the research and development moves on their own disintegrated ways. Research is more attached to growth of science and knowledge and development relates more to political centred public infrastructure and profit centred businesses of private sectors. The major problem in integration, on the one hand research works and output do not fit development objectives, on the other hand development process undervalue or ignore research outputs (Maranzato and Salerno, 2018). This fragmentation engenders friction, mistrust, lack of confidence and poor synergy among academic or research institutions, public and private sectors. Swamping of research and innovation supports to enhance the scientific communication and increase number of scientists in all different disciplines. This curtails the implication of RRI for the development process of the country consistently due to disintegration. However, as the majority of research works are sponsored by public fund through free education system, development process of the country should be supported by the RRI undeniably.

Implementation of RRI:  The integration of research and development is required to push the implementation of RRI. However, one of the factors working against the smooth transition from publication of research to policies and practice is probably the longstanding cultural divide between researchers, practitioners, and administrators. Usually researchers interact and communicate with fellow scientific community in relation to their educational qualifications, beliefs, social status and networks. Practitioners are unable articulate the research to solve the problems or find innovative solutions and they always try to imitate or follow the global trends. Administrators or policymakers usually consider the academic research outs as wilfully irrelevant to their development needs, which is underpinned with the political motives. As these three key stakeholders of the nations are heading three directions with their cultural perceptions, implementation of RRI in the country all fallen into dubious status. Building synergy and collaborative cultural move of these stakeholders are inevitable longstanding need of the nation to absorb RRI into development process of the country.

Impact of Research: Impact of research is variously defined but can be summarised as creating an effect, benefit, or contribution to economic, social, cultural, and other aspects of the lives of citizens and society beyond contributions to science and growth of knowledge (Barnes, 2015). A researcher begins a research with interest on socio-economic transformation or environmental concern. This made researchers to be inspired with a key research issue to fill a gap, resolve contradiction or conflict, continue a discontinuation, rematch a mismatch, rearrange a mystified puzzle and so on in socio-culture, economy and environment through RI. Although impact of research has been measured through the citations; research work of a scientist cited by other scientists, the funding agencies always expect Return on Investment (ROI) after sponsoring and supporting the research work. In the contemporary world impacts of researches are expected to be beyond the academic achievement.

A wide range and varieties of impacts from researches are found on culture, economy, social, environment, health and wellbeing, policymaking, legal system and technological development etc. Yet, disintegration of research and development on the implementation of RRI averts impacts of researches on socio-culture, economy and environment of Sri Lanka. Research without any impacts and only focused academic achievement and development of science is more or less similar to a beautifully grown tree without fruits. Although researches anticipate the need of science and academic achievement, lack of research impacts on triple bottom lines; people, planet and prosperity in the development process lead to devalue the research works. A successful research journey starts with interest and end with impacts that lead to further research.

Global sustainable development and enriching nation building emphasise the complete integrated research and development process that entrusted through eight (8) ‘I’s, begin with interest and inspired by a prominent research issue. This leads the investigation that includes conceptualisation, operationalisation and analysis to derive research output/information (RI or RRI). Integration of research and development is an inevitable element to bring PRI in policies and practice while contributing for academic achievement and growth of science. Integration of research and development build a synergetic force of researchers, practitioners and administrators/policy makers to implement RRI through policies and practices. A wide range and varieties of impacts on triple bottom lines; people, planet and prosperity are longstanding need beyond the academic impact of researches through scientific communication. 8 ‘I’ folded integrated research and development process claims researchers to play a dual role as scientists as well as catalysts of sustainable development.

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