Digital Science’s consultancy team, working with the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University, analysed structural diversity and argue for its value to a sustainable research base

This is the latest Digital Research Report, part of an ongoing series by Digital Science.

London: December 21st 2015: Digital Science, a global technology company serving the research community, alongside the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, highlight the importance of structural diversity to enable a sustainable research base.

Structural diversity in the academic environment refers to having multiplicity and disparity of subject areas, institutions and support mechanisms in research.The report expands and explains the conceptualisation of structural diversity and also talks about how diversity contributes to a flexible and responsive research base.

The main discussion points in this Digital Research Report, called “The Value Of Structural Diversity” are:

  • Structural diversity needs as much attention as research performance when governments assess a ‘strong’ research base
  • Structural diversity not only produces great research today but provides the flexible capacity and responsive capability that addresses new challenges tomorrow
  • The report develops the concept of structural diversity – the diversity of disciplines, institutions and support mechanisms – in the context of research management and interprets that diversity via new graphical visualisation
  • Analysis, via a new network map of the REF 2014 impact case studies, shows that structural diversity is associated with innovative and impactful research outcomes
  • Structural diversity is also revealed across institutions in a SPRU analysis that suggests conventional evaluations based on bibliometrics have undervalued the contribution of diversity to fostering interdisciplinary outcomes
  • Structural diversity across countries enables countries like the UK to maintain many disciplines and then switch resources to them when priorities change  

Figure 1: Conceptualising structural diversity


Jonathan Adams, Chief Scientist, Digital Science says:

“Structural diversity in research is a key attribute for leading economies and institutions. It has been criminally understudied and undervalued, but it is the substance that forms our ability to tackle innovation.”

You can download the report via Figshare here.