Department of Education

Knowledge Exchange Model

Diffusion (Norms and discourses)

In their widest sense, the societal influences of research knowledge include, for example, the percolation of research knowledge into public discourses, practices, and technologies. Concepts, principles and methods from research may seep into the ways in which issues are framed in the public domain, into the language used in cultural work, into the norms shaping political debate, into educational discourse or into everyday language and argumentation. In doing so, they may achieve long-lasting impact, but often at the expense of recognition, as tracing such changes through extended periods of time back to a single researcher, publication or project may be impossible. While the source of some concepts or methods may still be identifiable in their everyday use, many of those with widespread purchase are the collective product of complex interactions between different traditions and bodies of research. Yet others may have been ‘reinvented’ so many times, that awareness of their original meanings becomes weaker as their reach across society gets wider. For these reasons, articulating such wide-ranging changes has often been seen as too difficult and high-risk and thus avoided in the reporting and assessment of research impact; this is an area for further research and innovation.

Source: Oancea A (2011) Interpretations and practices of research impact across the range of disciplines. Oxford: University of Oxford.

Beneficiaries (Benefits)

Impactful research enables changes that make a positive difference to individuals, groups, organisations, and society as a whole (“beneficiaries”). Benefits may include, for example, incremental, minute improvements to the lives of large segments of the population, as well as deep, transformative influences upon the personal or professional lives of small numbers of individuals. The UK Research Excellence Framework prioritises benefits in the reporting of research impacts. At the same time, there are numerous practical and methodological challenges in capturing, measuring and evidencing benefits from research.

Source: Oancea A (2011) Interpretations and practices of research impact across the range of disciplines. Oxford: University of Oxford.

Use (Users)

Use refers to the translation, adoption, application and transfer of research concepts, findings, instruments and products developed from them, to different areas of, for example, individual behaviour, organisational practice, or policy. In applied and practice-based research, intended and potential uses are at the centre of research design and implementation. Other modalities of research may not be driven by considerations of use, but may actively seek or respond to opportunities for innovation and application, for example via new measures or research instruments. The use of research by others is a strong signal of research impact, though not a guarantee that the benefits arising from such use are worth the while in terms of scale, depth, or sustainability.

Source: Oancea A (2011) Interpretations and practices of research impact across the range of disciplines. Oxford: University of Oxford.

Visibility (Audiences)

To enable impact, research and its outputs need to be made known outside the immediate circle of partners and collaborators involved in its design, conduct and reporting. Dissemination, or spreading information about research, is not a new practice. However, the channels through which research can be shared have multiplied with the recent explosion of digital channels and with the move towards open access. So have the methods for monitoring and evaluating the success of sharing research through these channels with different audiences.

Source: Oancea A (2011) Interpretations and practices of research impact across the range of disciplines. Oxford: University of Oxford.

COLLABORATORS (PARTICIPATION)

An important feature of impactful research can be the participation of partners from other sectors and settings in the design, conduct, and validation of research. There are numerous ways in which this participation can be built into a research project – for example, as co-designed research and collaborative data collection, analysis and reporting (such as in the case of commissioned and practice-based research); as consultative or advisory participation at different stages of the research process; or as user-driven dissemination and application of research. While co-production of research is not a guarantee of tangible change or benefits arising from it for the relevant groups, it is a powerful way of maximising the relevance of research to the needs of these groups and thus its potential to achieve impact.

Source: Oancea A (2011) Interpretations and practices of research impact across the range of disciplines. Oxford: University of Oxford.

Audiences (Visibility)

To enable impact, research and its outputs need to be made known outside the immediate circle of partners and collaborators involved in its design, conduct and reporting. Dissemination, or spreading information about research, is not a new practice. However, the channels through which research can be shared have multiplied with the recent explosion of digital channels and with the move towards open access. So have the methods for monitoring and evaluating the success of sharing research through these channels with different audiences.

Source: Oancea A (2011) Interpretations and practices of research impact across the range of disciplines. Oxford: University of Oxford.

Users (Use)

Use refers to the translation, adoption, application and transfer of research concepts, findings, instruments and products developed from them, to different areas of, for example, individual behaviour, organisational practice, or policy. In applied and practice-based research, intended and potential uses are at the centre of research design and implementation. Other modalities of research may not be driven by considerations of use, but may actively seek or respond to opportunities for innovation and application, for example via new measures or research instruments. The use of research by others is a strong signal of research impact, though not a guarantee that the benefits arising from such use are worth the while in terms of scale, depth, or sustainability.

Source: Oancea A (2011) Interpretations and practices of research impact across the range of disciplines. Oxford: University of Oxford.

Benefits (Beneficiaries)

Impactful research enables changes that make a positive difference to individuals, groups, organisations, and society as a whole (“beneficiaries”). Benefits may include, for example, incremental, minute improvements to the lives of large segments of the population, as well as deep, transformative influences upon the personal or professional lives of small numbers of individuals. The UK Research Excellence Framework prioritises benefits in the reporting of research impacts. At the same time, there are numerous practical and methodological challenges in capturing, measuring and evidencing benefits from research.

Source: Oancea A (2011) Interpretations and practices of research impact across the range of disciplines. Oxford: University of Oxford.

Norms and discourses (Diffusion)

In their widest sense, the societal influences of research knowledge include, for example, the percolation of research knowledge into public discourses, practices, and technologies. Concepts, principles and methods from research may seep into the ways in which issues are framed in the public domain, into the language used in cultural work, into the norms shaping political debate, into educational discourse or into everyday language and argumentation. In doing so, they may achieve long-lasting impact, but often at the expense of recognition, as tracing such changes through extended periods of time back to a single researcher, publication or project may be impossible. While the source of some concepts or methods may still be identifiable in their everyday use, many of those with widespread purchase are the collective product of complex interactions between different traditions and bodies of research. Yet others may have been ‘reinvented’ so many times, that awareness of their original meanings becomes weaker as their reach across society gets wider. For these reasons, articulating such wide-ranging changes has often been seen as too difficult and high-risk and thus avoided in the reporting and assessment of research impact; this is an area for further research and innovation.

Source: Oancea A (2011) Interpretations and practices of research impact across the range of disciplines. Oxford: University of Oxford.

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