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Validation is the process of ensuring the conformity of a product or process or a research result with respect to related user needs and the requirements of the practical context of its use.

The idea of validation supposes that it is possible to ascertain users needs and the future context in which that use is to take place. It assumes a degree of “homogeneity” and “predictability” of these parameters for it to be feasible (and cost effective) to ensure the conformity between the product and the parameters. The validation approach, inspired by industrial mass-production processes, is quite different from “valorisation” (see below) where the centre of interest is not the “conformity” of results with a homogeneous usage context but rather the assumption that contexts will necessarily be different and any “up-take” will necessarily be one-off and involve adaptation, modification, or possibly even new products inspired by the ones being “valorised”. The philosophy behind valorisation does not take the product or process as "finished”, “closed” and “context independent”. It sees it as an open starting point for an on-going process that depends entirely on the local context and is always different from one place to another.

The word “validation” is sometimes confused with:

  • Testing is the process whereby a product or process is checked to ensure it functions correctly (but unlike validation, the testing does not refer to the conformity with respect to specific conditions or user needs).

  • Valorisation is the use of output from research and development as well as personal and collective experience to contribute to designing innovative solutions to specific problems and challenges. The challenge of valorisation in a peer-learning context is to find an appropriate form for input from R&D so that it can be readily integrated into the peer process.

  • Dissemination is a process whereby a product or process is made widely known and would-be users are encouraged to use it. The result is an increase in the value of the product and its impact.

In a project process, testing follows (or accompanies) development. Testing is in turn followed by validation, which may be followed by further development, testing and validation. Finally there is dissemination, although in many projects dissemination lies outside the framework of government-based funding, as part of the commercial exploitation of results. In a way valorisation could be seen as related to dissemination, but, as mentioned above, the main thrust of valorisation is not to encourage widespread use, but rather to integrate the product or process in a new context (on a one-off basis) with the probable result that the original product or process (or the way it is used) will be modified and adapted to fit the new context. It may even be that the product or process is not used at all but that the process of considering its use in the new context may lead to quite a different process or product.

Alan McCluskey, Saint-Blaise.

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Created: September 4th, 2007 - Last up-dated: September 4th, 2007