How can we characterise the process through which research makes an impact in society? Which preconditions are required for research to be put into use in industry, health and care, policymaking and other contexts? These are the central questions in the Oslo Institute for Research on the Impact of Science (OSIRIS), funded by the Forinnpol programme in the Research Council of Norway.

The main goal of OSIRIS is to become an internationally leading centre for studies of the impacts of research and to look at how and under what circumstances, research produces effects in society at large. OSIRIS brings together cross-disciplinary expertise for a concentrated, long-term effort.

A detailed description of the research activities can be found here.

Background and priorities

Research is supported through public funding because of the belief that it can help solve society's grand challenges. The legitimacy of research increasingly depends on it being useful. However, whether research is sufficiently utilised in all the sectors of society where it is needed, remains an important unanswered questions. A perceived lack of use leads to a critique of research organisations and questions about whether their activities and culture sufficiently promote and facilitate impact. This critique does at times seem to lack a solid foundation, and many of the important preconditions for impact may be beyond the immediate influence of the researchers. In OSIRIS we investigate and analyse impact from the perspectives of societal stakeholders and the users of research - groups we have far less systematic information about.

OSIRIS looks at how research produces effects in society beyond the direct interaction between research organisations and stakeholders. We refer to this as impact, and in OSIRIS we study the complex process of research impact within health, economic development and policymaking. These areas are chosen to cover different types of impacts and to be able to look at all scientific disciplines. We carry out multiple investigations of users' interaction with research and researchers, how they use research in their work and their capacities for doing so, and how research results are processed further.

Impact is a central and very complex science policy issue, and the knowledge and methods are fragmented. We bring together teams with specific expertise to develop original tools and perspectives to yield new insight and help science policy actors and research users to understand the conditions under which impact happens in different societal sectors. TIK Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture is the host of OSIRIS. TIK is an internationally leading unit for studies of research and innovation. Our Norwegian partner Statistics Norway is an expert on measuring economic effects, while the foreign partners from the University of Manchester and the Polytechnic University of Valencia represent global expertise within research evaluation and impact studies.

Preliminary findings

Our work and underlying perspectives have provided fresh insights especially into the demand side of impact processes. This has enabled a critical discussion of established outlooks in the existing literature such as the importance and type of various pathways, productive interactions, categories of use and public R&D support. In addition, we have been able to highlight the central yet often neglected role of contract research and R&D that emerges from other settings than the academic one. 

Much of our empirical work has been done in collaboration with a large number of users primarily in the public sector but also involving some firms. Preliminary results from the OSIRIS project's surveys, interviews and other data collection shows that there is a great interest in using research in many organisations. At the same time, we find that use of research is rarely very systematic and characterised by informal forms of contact like asking a colleague or searching after research online. Many research units experience pressure to demonstrate their wider impact or utility, perhaps industrial R&D units in particular. The lack of good indicators and lack of traditions for moving beyond cost-benefit or return on investment analyses is often a considerable challenge.

Organisation and partners

OSIRIS is hosted and led by TIK Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture at the University of Oslo, and has three national and international scientific partners, as well as several user partners. For more about the user partners see this page. In addition the centre also has an advisory board, a multidisciplinary mix of scientific and policy/user experts that can give advice to and become engaged in the centre’s conceptual and empirical activities. The following table lists the formal scientific partners and their main contacts.

TIK Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture

University of Oslo

OSIRIS Director, and head of Research team:

Magnus Gulbrandsen

UiO seal



Polytechnic University of Valencia

Head of Research team:

Jordi Molas Gallart



Statistics Norway

Head of Research team:

Arvid Raknerud

Manchester Institute of Innovation Research

The University of Manchester

Head of Research team:

Jakob Edler


Participating researchers

For a full list of participating researchers, visit the OSIRIS team.

Sister centres


OSIRIS has a sister centre called R-QUEST, hosted by NIFU. This centre is dedicated to state-of-the art studies of quality in research. The relationship between quality and impact is an important question at the intersection of the two centres, and we have regular meetings to coordinate activities and plan future events such as policy meetings and scientific conferences.


INTRANSIT is the third centre financed by the FORINNPOL initiative, and it is hosted at the TIK centre alongside OSIRIS. INTRANSIT started up in 2019, and has the following overall mission: To understand how industrial transformation towards a more sustainable and smarter Norwegian economy can be fostered.

By Magnus Gulbrandsen
Published Oct. 20, 2016 1:56 PM - Last modified Nov. 18, 2021 9:30 AM