Transform your strategic plan through horizon scanning

Horizon scanning and other foresight methods are critical to developing your research institution’s strategic plan. Learn how resources from the Web of Science can help.


Strategic plans at research institutions and funding agencies are central to planning and defining future direction. They foster excellence in research, improve an organization’s global standing and provide a coherent approach to institutional priorities and budget allocations. Despite this, the techniques and data that are integral to the creation of a strategic plan are often overlooked.

In this blog we cover horizon scanning and other foresight methods that are critical to developing or adjusting your strategic plan. Our Web of Science™ Consultancy team use these techniques in combination with unique tools and insights to develop bold and innovative strategies you can trust.

Learn more about our tools and services by signing up for our webinar, “Develop your future research portfolio through horizon scanning,” or reaching out to a member of our team now.


Foresight in action

Foresight has been applied by many institutions globally. As a set of methodologies that provide insight into potential future situations or trends, foresight can help identify potential hazards and opportunities — as well as key change agents to compel action.

Despite its importance, foresight can be easily pushed aside amidst the urgency of managing a research organization. This can lead to unidentified needs or gaps in a strategic plan, hindering your ability to adequately prepare for future changes or threats.

Here are some of the key steps our analysts take when helping research organizations align their investments with current and potential future needs:


1. Distinguish between signal and noise

Our analysts are skilled in targeting relevant data that maximize the signal to noise ratio, identifying actionable evidence and offering strategic insights. These tasks require experience and understanding of the analytical methods and contexts from which the data are obtained. . Get a feel for what’s involved in this step by reading our report, Identifying Research Fronts in the Web of Science: From metrics to meaning, from the Institute for Scientific Information™ (ISI).


2. Identify signals for change

Understanding potential developments that may influence your research agenda is critical. These developments may arise from your current research portfolio, from peer institutions or from potential corporate partners. Knowing what research has been published is not enough –identify emerging research is critical to driving resource planning decisions over the medium-term of three to five years.

3. Determine impact scenarios

Playing out the signals is crucial to preparing for potential scenarios in your research strategy. This stimulates and provokes dialogue and highlights future opportunity.


While it’s impossible to predict all potential nuances, applying data- driven insights accrued from the signals helps develop impact scenarios.


4. Understand existing strengths

Determining your research baseline and mapping this against the impact scenarios helps to align existing strengths with future potential. This merging of current strengths and future potential helps to illustrate feasible action routes.


Data as a guide

A critical opportunity to help resolve your research investments is to map your research portfolio using two Web of Science™ tools, Research Fronts™ and Emerging Research Areas™, from Clarivate. These tools help you make sense of the complexity and build a robust research strategy by illuminating your strategic direction and place within the research landscape. Making such your institution’s data is readily accessible draws attention to your research and researchers, enhances their visibility and results in wider research networks and greater impact.

The analysts in our Consultancy team apply the following framework with data as a guide:

  1. Conduct a landscape analysis: We describe the landscape where your current research investments are focused
  2. Deliver horizon scan: We identify the relevant research frontier of the scientific knowledge base derived from the keyword analysis
  3. Apply expert opinion: We lead your decision-makers through a process to contextualize your portfolio within broader emerging research and researcher landscapes
  4. Set your research strategy: We guide and strengthen your research investment strategy through a systematic data-driven lens


Guiding you to success

Strategic plans at research organizations help you respond flexibly and strategically to future risks and opportunities. A thorough and robust plan benefits from a certain degree of technical specialization and experience.

The analysts in our Web of Science Consultancy team are skilled in foresight techniques and have the tools and knowledge to help you become resilient to future circumstances.

To use horizon scanning and landscape analysis as a strategic asset, contact us for an initial conversation today.

Want to learn more

Speak to one of our experts about how you can use horizon scanning and landscape analysis as a strategic asset.

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