IRIS was highlighted in the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Center for Economic Studies and Research Data Centers Research Report: 2017” issued in May 2018. The Center for Economic Studies (CES) is a unit of the U.S. Census Bureau established in 1982 with the mission to partner with “stakeholders within and outside the U.S. Census Bureau to improve measures of the economy and people of the United States through research and innovative data products,” including providing data access to researchers through the strictly controlled Research Data Center (RDC) program.
In this report, “Chapter 2: New Measures of Innovation” discusses the partnership that IRIS and the U.S. Census have built to develop data and provide better insights into the impacts that research funding have on the economy. It includes an overview of the history of the Innovation Measurement Initiative (IMI) dating back nearly a decade, and which ultimately led to the establishment of IRIS, giving context for both the type of data IRIS develops and the reasons for launching the IMI at the U.S. Census.
The administrative data IRIS collects from its ever-expanding group of member universities (currently accounting for about 30% of all federal spending on R&D) is record-level data that can be linked and studied either at individual levels or at program, university, and grant levels, and the chapter focuses on the importance of how this data can be used to quantify the production of knowledge and measure the impact of the research enterprise. As Julia Lane and Carol Corrado note in a paper cited in this report, the
“project-based unit of analysis is especially relevant for cutting across the multiple organizations (alliances, universities) that play important roles in innovations with long lifecycles and whose processes are complex (e.g., “open” innovation processes).”
Aside from discussing the history behind the IMI, the chapter also provides an introduction to the data IRIS has worked to develop, describing IRIS’s annual data release for researchers and the process through which researchers can gain access to the data via IRIS’s secure virtual data enclave. The chapter also includes examples of some research that has been completed so far with the data.