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Survey aims to narrow “research-practice gap”

Results of global survey that aims to facilitate the uptake of geotechnical research in practice and narrow the “research-practice gap” has been published.

The survey by the Corporate Associates Presidential Group (CAPG) and Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) was launched in March last year.

The State of the Art and State of Practice in geotechnical engineering survey canvassed the views of the ISSMGE’s 90 member associations and 20,000 individual members. The initial findings were explored during a workshop at the ISSMGE conference in Seoul last year but have now been made publicly available for the first time. The full report can be downloaded below (If you cannot download the file, please check you have the latest version fo your internet browser or try a different browser).

According to the CAPG and TOC, the main aim of the project was to gain a better understanding of the state of practice in the geotechnical profession, to identify areas for improvement and to provide feedback from the profession to the ISSMGE’s 33 technical committees.

TOC chair Pierre Delage said that the results are now being analysed. “The survey was an ambitious and difficult project,” he said. “The survey produced many interesting contributions, thoughts and feedback, providing new insights into the professional practice and technical committee activities. It is clear that academics, practitioners and contractors often think in different ways and may have divergent interests.”

Dissemination of the findings through the recently published results of the survey is part of the next stage of the project but further sessions are planned at regional conferences next year and CAPG will work with the local organising committees to progress this. A further survey may also be undertaken ahead of the next international conference which is planned to take place in Sydney, Australia in 2021.


Key findings to narrow the gap

  • Compulsory professional accreditation is seen as a key step in narrowing the gap between the state of art and the state of practice.
  • Technical committees should interact more with industry and the public sector so that the TCs are exposed to more real needs.
  • Data interoperability and the establishment of pre-competitive data federations could assist in closing the gap. The application of the state of art requires the state of practice practitioners to have access to such data.
  • Academia should sometimes focus more on “practical questions” in their research. Research in geotechnical engineering must seek an application in practise.
  • Coming up with a set of guidelines for each sub-discipline within geotechnical engineering and making these available to the ISSMGE community will go a long way to bridging the gap between state of practice and state of art.
  • Increase the number of symposia focusing on the case studies in geotechnical engineering to assist researchers
  • in understanding the real behaviour of structures in order to model them in a better way.
  • The gap between state of art and state of practice can be bridged with continued professional education and involving practicing engineers in specific geotechnical committees.
  • In the steering/drafting committees of regulations such as Eurocodes, a better balance between academics and practicing engineers should be sought.
  • Often, state of art and state of practice are both used for solving practical problems, state of art for more demanding problems vs state of practice for more common problems.

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