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Flows of knowledge, expertise and influence: a method for assessing policy and practice impacts from social science research

Meagher, L   Lyall, C   Tait, J

January 2008

Social science research undoubtedly does impact on public policy and practice but such non-academic impacts are rarely amenable to precise, quantitative metrics. In the interests of accountability, it is however possible to find proxy indicators of connectivity with research users and these may form steps toward impacts. Understanding these connections can lead to a deeper appreciation of the factors that shape the processes leading to research uptake. This study adopted a detailed and largely qualitative approach to identify the flows of knowledge, expertise and influence that take place during the process of knowledge transfer in order to trial a method for assessing policy and practice impacts from social science research. As a corollary to this assessment, the study further identified five factors that can influence and enhance the process of knowledge exchange between researchers and users.

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