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Dr Claire Donovan

Dr Claire Donovan
Reader - Science Policy & Research Governance

Research area(s)

  • Research funding, evaluation, and policy
  • Assessing research impact (all fields)
  • Higher Education policy
  • Governance of humanities, arts, and social sciences within science systems
  • Evaluation and metrics and technologies of governance
  • Gendered 'excellence' in Higher Education
  • Epistemology
  • Sociology of knowledge
  • Assessing the value of culture
  • Forensic bibliometrics
  • Case studies and narrative methods

Research supervision



Research project(s) and grant(s)

‘Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences’, Fiona Jenkins (PI), Helen Keane, Marian Sawyer, Claire Donovan (International PI), Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (AUD $397,514 / £172,083), 2015-19.

Gender equity has still not been realised, despite decades of activism, policy and research. In some of the social sciences, women make up less than 15 per cent of the professoriate. Yet these are the disciplines that should most aid our understanding of how gender works in society. The project asks what impact women's limited influence and status in these key fields of research has upon our capacity to grapple with the social and political changes necessary for progress toward gender equality. In doing so, it builds persuasive arguments about how and why gender matters in the social sciences. By examining how we judge excellence in social science research, the project aims to contribute to advancing women in all fields.

Project website:

‘IMPACT-EV: Evaluating the impact and outcomes of European social sciences and humanities research’, Ramon Flecha (PI), Dragona Amarov, Claire Donovan, Poul Holm, Benedetto Lepori, Andrea Scharnhorst, Andras Schubert and Emanuela Reale, European Commission FP7 Programme (€2,271,709 / £1,514,472), 2014-17.

The European Commission invested €50 billion in funding academic research through its 7th Framework Programme (2007-13) and will invest a further €80 billion in its Horizon 2020 scheme (2014-20). It is vitally important for the Commission to demonstrate to EU citizens the impact of its research investment, and so it is seeking the most rigorous approaches to: a) robustly evaluate the outcomes of individual grants, and; b) rigorously select the most promising future research and researchers to fund.

This demand takes place in a context where research evaluation has traditionally focused on the scientific impact of research publications, rather than the impact this science has on society; and has tended to highlight the impact of the natural sciences while side-lining the impact of research in the social sciences and humanities (SSH). For this reason, measures of research performance have developed that do not necessarily reflect the achievements of SSH research. This has led some critics to question whether SSH research has any real value, and if it should be funded by the EU at all. In response, the European Commission has funded the IMPACT-EV project to apply state of the art approaches to assess the impact of SSH research conducted under the 7th Framework Programme.

The main objective of the IMPACT-EV project is to develop a permanent system of selection, monitoring, evaluation and comparison of the impact and outcomes from European SSH research taking into account the latest quantitative and qualitative evaluation techniques, identifying new ways of implementing them, and exploring new standards and indicators that complement existing impact assessment processes. The IMPACT-EV project will contribute to defining standards of quality for impact assessment, and seeks to promote the enhanced scientific, policy, and social impact of SSH research in Europe.

Project website:

Evaluating the returns from research funded by Australia's National Breast Cancer Foundation, Claire Donovan (PI), Stephen Hanney, Teresa Jones, National Breast Cancer Foundation (£49,925), 2012.

This research was an evaluation of the returns from research funded by Australia‘s National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) using the ’Payback Framework‘. It covered all of NBCF‘s research funding programmes since its establishment in 1994, and a more selective case study approach to investigate its high impact research across the various Payback domains. The research consisted of a series of elements: 1) a review of the existing material available from NBCF; 2) a survey of Chief Investigators on selected Project Grants and Fellowships; 3) 16 selected mini-case studies; 4) development of recommendations for routine data collection and monitoring of research impacts, and observations on future research strategy; 5) progress reports for the NBCF Board; 6) production of a report for NBCF.

Project publications

Claire Donovan, Linda Butler, Alison J. Butt, Teresa H. Jones and Stephen R. Hanney (2014) 'Evaluation of the Impact of National Breast Cancer Foundation-funded Research'. Medical Journal of Australia, 200 (4): 214-18. doi: 10.5694/mja13.10798. Download publication 

Download summary of the HERG Evaluation Report from the NBCF website.