Synthesis of Methods and Measures for Determining Value of Transportation Research

Authors: Mohsen Shahandashti (Ph.D., P.E.) and Baabak Ashuri (Ph.D.) and Mehdi Tavakolan (Ph.D.)


Transportation agencies and most notably State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs) sponsor various research projects to enhance the state of transportation in a wide range of impact areas, such as safety, environmental sustainability, and congestion reduction. Determining the value of transportation research projects is a critical step towards promoting high value research projects and assuring that research funds are not misappropriated. Although a variety of methods and measures have been proposed to determine the value of transportation research, there has not been a study to synthesize these methods and measures and exemplify their actual applications under various impact areas. The overall objective of this paper is to synthesize existing methods and measures for determining the value of transportation research. Through data gathering and analysis, it is found out that most State DOTs (84%) that responded to the survey have future plans to quantify the value of research projects. However, the lack of knowledge about existing methods and measures is a significant barrier for assessing the benefits of research projects across various benefit areas. The results of content analysis conducted on the documents that represent the state of practice in determining the value of research showed that, regardless of the difference in benefit areas, all the managers of transportation research agencies strive to answer 2 critical questions when it comes to determine the value of research: what method and what measure could be used to determine the value of research? This research determines how these critical questions are answered in the current state of practice. The results were presented to research program managers of transportation agencies for validation. These subject matter experts rated the results highly useful to their current practices. The major contribution of this paper is to identify and exemplify various methods and measures that have been successfully used for determining the value of transportation research in a variety of impact areas.

Keywords: Value of Research, Transportation, Methods, Measures.