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.