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Integrating Research and Standardisation

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What good is research if results aren’t applicable?

Research results are worthy when applied for the benefit of society and economy. When the research concerns technological advancements, this means aligning the results with standardisation - the focus of a recent EU-funded initiative.

Digital Economy

The 'Integrating research and standardisation' (Interest) project aimed to develop taxonomies of standards, research outputs, and research–standards relationships, so as to improve the interface between research and standardisation. Alongside the development of best practice guidelines, the project sought to contribute in this way to effective dissemination and use of research produced, and to provide support for related Community policies. To elaborate on the specifics of the research–standardisation link, project members used a broad approach and several methods including qualitative case studies and quantitative analyses. The various activities generated new insights into the role of standards in research as well as the role of standardisation organisations and policymakers. These enabled Interest to offer a number of recommendations to help bridge the gap between the two areas. Problems such as a lack of resources and justifying their obtainment represent major barriers to work on standardisation. This is especially true for universities and applied research organisations with restricted funding. Most funding agencies are largely unaware of the benefits of standards to both society and the economy, and few research-funding organisations consider standards a valuable tool for production of sustainable results or their dissemination: this further complicates matters. As such, policymakers are called on to integrate standards-related aspects into funding principles, and to incorporate standards into calls for proposals for funding, as well as project evaluation. Adequate funding alone cannot help raise awareness of the importance of standards and standardisation; the onus is on the research community itself. Here, low awareness translates to the lacklustre participation of researchers in standardisation, since the field is not deemed to be one of potential activity. This can be addressed by raising awareness through research organisations and standardisation organisations, to highlight the benefits of such work. One way of doing this is to more widely introduce the field to academic curricula as well as educate researchers with relevant knowledge about related standardisation processes and procedures. Considering that many organisations active in standardisation already have the means for transferring research results into standardisation, such bodies serve as a good channel for communicating examples of best practices. Integrating the production of research knowledge and the work of standardisation organisations will enhance the flow of knowledge and facilitate reaching consensus on future technology paths. This will boost the objectives of work being done in both realms, and in the long run, will lead to faster acknowledgement of new research and technology trends.

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