About IRIS

Creating Trusted Independent Data About the Impact of Research

The Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS) is a consortium based at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR). Founded in 1949, ISR is a world leader in the development and application of social science methods in the public interest. IRIS joins other national and international data resources at ISR including the Consumer Sentiment Index, the Health and Retirement Study, and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

IRIS transforms the successful UMETRICS initiative (Universities: Measuring the Impacts of Research on Innovation, Competitiveness and Science) developed by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) into a permanent national resource by creating a secure professional data platform for the research community and university administrators.

IRIS has extended UMETRICS by developing national partnerships to:

  • Collect, improve, protect, and use big data on the dynamics of science and the economy
  • Validate and disseminate new metrics on the economic and social effects of research
  • Support university members who pursue credible outreach using that data
  • Partner with universities to design data products anchored in rigorous research findings
  • Develop an interdisciplinary research community that applies IRIS data to address pressing social science and policy questions

The IRIS team

IRIS is organized around a federated “core and node” model with a central facility and core operations at:

  • University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (Jason Owen-Smith, IRIS Executive Director)
  • IRIS UM Staff

Research nodes are responsible for helping to define scientific goals, develop a research community, and make material improvements to the core data. Current nodes include:

  • Big Ten Academic Alliance, (Barbara McFadden Allen)
  • New York University, (Julia Lane)
  • Ohio State University / National Bureau of Economic Research, (Bruce Weinberg)
  • University of Chicago, (James Evans)
  • U.S. Census Bureau, (Ron Jarmin)


Universities have a central role not just in performing research, but in understanding the research process and documenting its results to maximize the efficient use of resources, identify fruitful new collaborations and relationships, improve education and training of students and junior researchers, and demonstrate the impacts of research and educational activities.

IRIS, a program at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, brings Science of Science Policy researchers together with university administrators to build a scientific framework that will inform research management, enable evidence based decision-making, and support credible explanations of the societal value of research.

Membership in IRIS complements existing university investments in commercial data tools, but also provides data not available elsewhere. Integration with federal, commercial, and other datasets is an ongoing effort.

IRIS was founded on January 1, 2015 to sustainably expand the UMETRICS initiative developed by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation with $2.5 million in seed funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman and Alfred P. Sloan foundations. UMETRICS emerged from a partnership of federal science agencies including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. An initial meeting between science of science policy researchers and CIC research officers in March of 2013 led to a two-year pilot project supported by data from 11 universities.

The UMETRICS project compellingly demonstrated that universities can leverage and link their own administrative data to better understand their research portfolios, document their varied economic impact, and generate new scholarly findings.

Since 2013, some 63 researchers have accessed UMETRICS data under strict confidentiality protections to pursue research projects that analyze the career outcomes of graduate students, the dynamics and consequences of an aging scientific workforce, the optimal structure of scientific research teams, the contributions of academic discoveries to food safety and security, and entrepreneurship by faculty, staff, and students.

Research projects sparked by UMETRICS were supported by six grants totaling nearly $10 million from three federal science agencies. These projects produced peer-reviewed articles in Science and Research Policy, as well as aggregate and campus-level reports that participating institutions used effectively in outreach to boards of regents and trustees, and to state and federal legislators.

In addition, UMETRICS project team members were invited to present testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and commissioned papers to panels convened by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

The success of UMETRICS in its first two years is a testament to the power of a university-led collaborative endeavor. The Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS) has continued the progress modeled by the UMETRICS initiative.




* indicates required


Click the image to view larger.




Institute for Research on Innovation and Science
University of Michigan
Institute for Social Research
Survey Research Center
426 Thompson St, 3318 ISR
Ann Arbor, MI, 48106-1248

P: (734) 615-0015
F: (734) 936-0548

For general inquiries please use the form below.

© 2015 The Regents of the University of Michigan  |  Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA  |  Phone: +1 (734) 764-1817