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The National Academies

NCHRP 20-44(09) [Active]

Quantitative and Qualitative Methods for Capturing the Impacts and Value of NCHRP Research
[ NCHRP 20-44 (Moving Research into Practice ) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $800,000
Staff Responsibility: Sid Mohan
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Dr. Johanna P. Zmud
Effective Date: 5/1/2019

BACKGROUND

 

In any given year, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) produces dozens of applied research products that are intended to be practice-ready and implementable by state departments of transportation (DOTs) and other transportation agencies. NCHRP research products are used to advance the state of practice across all aspects of transportation planning, project delivery, operation, and maintenance activities performed by state DOTs and others. They inform public policy related to the investment of public and private resources in public infrastructure. NCHRP research tangibly contributes to the continuing education of the transportation workforce, and it facilitates knowledge development and information transfer among national and international communities of practice.

 

Demonstrating the effectiveness of NCHRP research products in changing practices, informing policy decisions, and in ultimately generating benefits to society (e.g., of lives saved, cost savings, time savings, and other tangible as well as intangible benefits) has not been undertaken in a comprehensive manner. Understanding when and how NCHRP research results contribute to the delivery of transportation goods and services at the state and national level is necessary to provide feedback to NCHRP and the state DOTs that supports continuous improvement of the program.

 

Estimating the value of NCHRP research products is challenging. A research product can have multiple outcomes, which in turn can lead to multiple impacts. Significant time can pass between when the research product is developed, when it is put into practice, and when the impacts of that practice are realized; this affects the timing of any evaluation activities. The nature of research products is wide-ranging; some research products are geared towards improving existing practices, while others are useful for informing policy decisions. A variety of techniques may be used to measure the impacts themselves, influenced by what measures would be most useful, how easy performance data are to collect, monitor, and replicate. Finally, attributing impacts to a research product, when the research product is used as part of a portfolio of other research products, needs to be considered. Estimating the value of NCHRP research will likely require approaches that are sensitive to the context of the research and the perspective of the stakeholders trying to understand its benefits.

 

OBJECTIVES

 

The objectives of this research are to:

  • Enable NCHRP to provide program sponsors/state DOTs with useful and actionable information about the impacts and value of NCHRP research products.
  • Develop guidance (including definitions, assumptions, assessment tools, and methods) that will enable NCHRP to consistently measure the value and impacts of its research products over time. The guidance may also be applicable to state DOTs.
  • Demonstrate use of the guidance by applying it to a variety of NCHRP research products and research portfolios to estimate, measure, or assess the value accrued through application of the results.
  • Recommend changes to the NCHRP program and processes that will enable future assessment of value. Recommendations must consider the cost of implementation, including training on how to implement the guidance, and likelihood of success by NCHRP and state DOTs.

The guidance will be implementable by NCHRP, and state DOTs where appropriate, to periodically determine the effectiveness of NCHRP research products in (1) changing practices and/or standards, (2) informing policy decisions, (3) educating the transportation workforce, and (4) ultimately generating benefits to society. It will also be used to encourage wider implementation of NCHRP research products and for the continuous improvement of the NCHRP research process. The guidance will complement previous NCHRP research on measuring and communicating the value of transportation research and draw on other relevant research and practices, including from other sectors and disciplines.

 

RESEARCH PLAN

 

The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers’ current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the problem and the soundness of their approach to accomplishing the project objective. The project will be organized in phases, and will involve pilots to demonstrate proof of concept. Each phase must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed for each task in detail. Specific deliverables for submission to NCHRP for review and approval must be identified.

 

Project deliverables will include the following at a minimum:

  1. Technical memoranda and/or interim reports that convey progress, delivered at the end of phases or major tasks.
  2. Two in-person meetings with the NCHRP project panel to be held at TRB offices in Washington, DC or Irvine, California.
  3. A final report that documents results, summarizes findings, draws conclusions, and presents the proposed guidance (including methods and resources required to implement an ongoing program for capturing value).
  4. Communication materials to explain the results of this research to a variety of audiences, including senior executives and research managers from state DOTs.
STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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