Putting the research mission into words
The first step is to put the research mission – the purpose of the research – into words. This is not just about the terms of reference, justification for or objectives of the research in terms of valorisation, but about all aspects of the research performed by the department or in the project in question. Valorisation is just one aspect of the mission – after all, valorisation and research are intimately linked.
The research mission will often already have been formulated. If that is not the case, the title of a research project or the name of the research institute often gives an indication. Other sources of information are the description of the objectives of the institute or the list of aims of the project.
Identifying specific practices
The next step is to identify the scope for valorisation within the context of the mission. In other words, what changes will the research bring about, or where can it make contributions?
It is important to be concrete and specific here, to avoid making unrealistic promises or arousing unrealistic expectations. Few research groups or research projects will be able to find the silver bullet that will solve all problems in a given field, such as preventing the further spread of HIV/AIDS or finding a way of stopping bullying among children.
A sensible choice of objectives will help to define a realistic contribution that can be made in a given situation – for example preventing the further spread of HIV/AIDS in a well-defined target group or via a specific transmission mechanism, preventing bullying in a particular social situation or identifying factors that increase the likelihood of bullying in the social situation in question.
Experience shows, however, that no matter how carefully the study objectives are specified, the ambitions of the researchers will often tend to exceed their real possibilities. That is not such a bad thing, though, because ambitions give the researcher something to aim at.
The search for appropriate research methods may turn up a large number of concrete options. In that case, the number of options will have to be narrowed down to ensure that the research achieves a maximum impact. Other researchers may be unable to identify any concrete contribution their research might make at first sight. It may help in such cases to reflect on a specific situation where the research could make a real difference. In joint research projects where researchers work together with certain public partners, the field of application of the research results may be defined by the project proposal.
The answer to the following main question defines the overall scope for valorisation. The detailed questions that follow it stimulate further consideration of the subject and help to direct ideas into the right channels. It will not be necessary, or even possible, to answer all the detailed questions in every case.