Reports & Products

Creating Value

Since its founding in 2015, IRIS has expanded into a national initiative which has created new, independent, statistical evidence about the economic impact of research. IRIS universities are using this information to:

  1. document their economic impact
  2. manage their research portfolios, and
  3. provide evidence that informs outreach to federal and state constituents.

IRIS is a consortium of research universities We seek to build and maintain a permanent, trusted national resource to support research and reporting to understand, explain, and improve the public value of research.


Individual Campus Reports Support Advocacy and Outreach

Campus-level reports constructed from an individual university’s data provide resources for use in research reports, as well as presentations to the public and other stakeholders. In addition, routine reports from IRIS data improve administrators’ knowledge about the size and composition of the research workforce on campus, the portfolio of federally funded research, and the distribution of people supported by different funders. Future products that integrate information from data linkages made by the U.S. Census Bureau will provide compelling and comprehensive information about the career outcomes of research-trained students, the regional and national economic effects of vendor spending, and entrepreneurship by students, faculty, and staff.

Specific campus-level reports are considered protected data for the participating member universities and are accessible only through the Member Portal.

IRIS produces three reports for its member universities that can be customized to fit the needs of each institution. All are interactive to allow the greatest flexibility in selecting elements that are most relevant. Reports can be constructed to use a fiscal or calendar year format as well.

Spending Report

IRIS creates a Spending Report that focuses on the federal spending for each institution. It details the individuals paid on research funds, highlighting the funders that provided the support, and provides national and regional distributions of research expenditures. An important feature of the report is the state and congressional maps of research spending. The report defaults to federal spending, but members who provide the data can also produce reports on non-federal spending related to research.

Employee Profile Report

Using Census-linked data, the Employee Profile Report presents data about employment and earnings of research-trained employees, allowing institutions to track the flow of people into the economy. It provides top state destinations for research-trained employees who leave to take jobs elsewhere, as well as details about the employment sectors in which they find work and their subsequent earnings.

Vendor Profile Report

Using Census-linked data, the Vendor Profile report provides information on the goods and services purchased using research dollars (again, usually federal) by 2-, 3-, and 4-digit NAICS codes (North American Industry Classification System) and compares this spending to national averages. It also provides details about the vendors, such as number of employees and average wages.

How IRIS Members Use The Reports They Receive

Externally-facing strategies

Most IRIS members have told us they use IRIS data reports for externally-facing stakeholders, such as legislators and other policymakers. They provide these data as part of their overall strategy of institutional analytics, using IRIS data to tell their stories to demonstrate the value and impact of research and education on their campuses.

IRIS institutions share information with local, state, and national legislators and policy makers. Many highlight the importance of state legislative connections. IRIS data are included in materials intended to underscore the impact of research universities by demonstrating the ripples in the economy created by research spending and employment. IRIS data linked to Census assets provide important information about the economic impact of research by examining the vendor spending at the county and congressional district level. Universities also use data about the geographic distribution of individuals who were funded by research and have subsequently left their institutions to tell the story of their local, state and national impact. IRIS provides details such as average salaries and job sector for these individuals as well.

IRIS reports allow universities to benchmark against a selected aggregate group. We cannot provide the data from one institution to another for this purpose under our MOU, so direct comparisons are never made. Nevertheless, IRIS provides aggregate reports against which member institutions can view themselves on various metrics.   The reports are contextualized as much as possible using national data.

Internally-facing strategies

IRIS members also use their reports in a variety of ways on their campuses. Many use IRIS reports to help make data-driven decisions around research administration issues.  Others use them to connect to and learn from campus constituents who have an interest in understanding their institution’s social and economic impact. The reports are shared with institutional leadership, from institute directors to deans to presidential speechwriters to governing bodies.

There is considerable interest in highlighting specific aspects of the data, such as student employment on research awards. Understanding the impact of such experiences on student outcomes is on the radar, particularly as such experiences relate to STEM majors and subsequent career development.

The Federal Spending report has proven particularly useful for this purpose because it highlights the various categories of employees paid on research awards from different funders.  IRIS universities have made particular use of information on student participation in federally funded research at both the graduate and undergraduate level.  Some universities use these reports from IRIS to connect campus leaders from disparate units who share a common interest, such as student success; these groups can study the IRIS reports to learn more about how to better support their students.  IRIS participation and data can serve an important local convening function.

“My congressional representative asked me about output measures of Ohio State research.  Was that research making an impact and how did we measure it? I showed him IRIS data on the economic impact of federally sponsored research. This was exactly the type of data he wanted, showing both short-term and long-term gains from research.  I find the IRIS data increasingly useful for discussions about the value of research.”

Caroline C. Whitacre

VP for Research, Ohio State University

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