I’ve been invited to participate in a symposium on Deep Practice, organised around the theme “Deepening knowledge
and innovation through design practice.” The program includes this free talk by Professor Mark Burry on March 24th in Melbourne.
To prepare for the event, we’ve been asked to write a brief piece on the topic. This is mine:
Researchers do not have enough impact on practice. In trying to encourage Deep Practice, it is important to address this problem.
Too often, going deeply into a subject leads to abstraction. Model building is an essential part of the discovery process. Unfortunately, a focus on abstract modeling often comes at the expense of practical application.
There are multiple reasons for this. One is that there are no academic metrics for practical impact. In measuring research excellence, the primary measures include things such as: publication volume, quality of publication outlets, citations, and research grant income. All of these measures are based on research conversations taking place exclusively between academics. This encourages depth in research, but it also encourages abstraction.
The recent Excellence in Research Australia also included “Application Measures”. These included commercialization income, and patents. These measures are based on an outmoded view of how research can drive innovation.
Both types of research metrics fail to address impact on practice. If we are to encourage Deep Practice, we must encourage greater interaction with practice on the part of researchers.