27 November 2006

Valuing information: Impact assessment shows value of CABI products to Australian research

An impact assessment by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) suggests that the use of two CABI information products saves Australian researchers up to $2.2 million dollars per year.

The report examines the benefits to Australia of two of CABI's publishing and information dissemination activities: CAB Abstracts and the CABI Compendia, specifically the CABI Crop Protection Compendium.

Key findings in the independent report showed that CAB Abstracts saves each Australian researcher between 3 and 5 days per year; valued at between $470,000 and $790,000 per year across all Australian researchers. Use of the Crop Protection Compendium is even more impressive; saving each researcher between 37 and 54 days per year and equating to between $940,000 and $1,380,000 per year for time savings across all researchers.

The report is based on a detailed survey of Australian users, focusing on the reasons they use the products, usage statistics, search accuracy and overall coverage. Respondents said that on average it would take 2.5 times longer to find and search relevant information without CAB Abstracts while several CPC users claimed that their research would be almost impossible if it was unavailable.

Beyond the insights into these CABI products, the report is a very valuable case study of the impact of information in agricultural research.

According to the report authors, the analysis was structured "around the idea that the CABI products allow researchers to do more with less — to produce more research output for the same resources. In particular, we have viewed the products as a labour-saving technology and have estimated the magnitude of this saving using a direct survey of users."

The authors note that while the users "were extremely diverse, covering a broad range of fields and a broad range of research purposes", the results "show that labour-saving technologies in knowledge management, by providing small but significant savings to a number of users can, in aggregate, provide significant benefits. One of the implications of this is that, in some cases, there may be good justification for agencies such as ACIAR to fund (or to continue funding) activities which enhance the productivity of researchers. As we have illustrated, such funding is, in essence, equivalent to finding extra research funds and so is likely to increase the efficiency with which taxpayer funds are used."

More on ACIAR and CABI




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