Research that makes a difference
At Rennes SB, research impact means more than the quality of the academic publication. It is about how this research makes a difference into only for other academics, but also for a variety of other stakeholders, such as students, companies, and policy makers. It is about working to inform the world around us and make it a little bit better than before we wrote that paper or started that project.
This section includes some examples of our research academic, pedagogical, and corporate impact. Of course, there is more, but this are representative examples of the work we are doing here.
As for academic impact, the last couple of years saw notable progress. Starting in 2018, the school has engaged in a strong reform aimed at improving the quality and quantity of our research, which lead to a new Faculty Management Policy and the creation of a Research Lab and four distinctive, phenomena-based Areas of Excellence. These initiatives, that included a strong support to faculty’s research, have produced exceptional results in the span of a little over two years. The quality of faculty publications has strongly increased. As compared to the 2017 output (our baseline), Figure 1 shows that publications in top journals (A and A*) increased of 20% in 2018, 160% in 2019, and 160% in 2020. While in 2020 we have already equaled the 2019 output, these data only include papers published or accepted for publications (i.e., forthcoming) in the first 3 months of 2020 (hence, results for this year are on the way to vastly surpass the already great 2019 numbers).
Also, the quantity of our publications has markedly improved. As compared to the 2017 output (our baseline), Figure 2 shows that the number of peer-reviewed publications increased by 31% in 2018, 39% in 2019, and 18% in 2020. Again, the 2020 numbers only refer to three months (Jan-March 2020) and are already better than those for the entire baseline year.
Of course, we realise that research impact goes way past the quality of the journals where we publish or the number of such publications.
Hence, for us it is also important that our research has pedagogic impact. As a school, students remain a primary stakeholder. For this reason, our faculty continuously strives to inform their classes with their research, as well as to infuse it into new programs – as it has happened with the Areas of Excellence developing classes and material for our new PGE – as well as creating new programs altogether – as it is the case for the new Master in Financial Data Intelligence (developed by the AI Area of Excellence) and the Summer School in Artificial Intelligence (jointly developed by the AI and mïnd areas). One last aspect in which we link our research to students is by involving them in our research project, as it has happened with Masters students both in individual projects (that have resulted in joint publications) as well as via the Research-honors Graduating Project, a new programme that allows Master students to spend time working on one or more research projects within a specific Area of Excellence as part of their graduating thesis.
Last, but definitely not least, research must make a difference to organisations that work with or around the school. Corporate impact is very important for us, as we take very seriously our role in the local ecosystem and beyond. The majority of our researchers works on have worked with companies in developing their research, with the consequence that the results of their studies have informed, one way or another, the practices of these companies. We are also looking at the opportunity to develop long-lasting collaborations with companies that involve the funding of research projects, as it has happened for the Agribusiness Areas to fund three PhD students jointly from two different companies and the French ANRT (the National Association for Research and Technology), the establishment of an AI Observatory by our AI-driven Business Area, or the development and delivery of Executive Development Workshops with internationally-known partners such as Imperial College London and Stockholm School of Economics by the mïnd Area.
Please have a look around in the three sections that spell out some of the accomplishments of my colleagues, especially (but not only) in the context of the Areas of Excellence, and join me in congratulating them for the relevance of the work they have done and are continuing to do!