UK Parliament Examining Research Knowledge Transfer

January 22nd, 2009

Posted by: admin

From The Scientist we have a report of testimony before Parliament about how well UK research councils are transferring the knowledge generated through research to business *and* broader communities.  Yes, this is from 2006.  However, I found the report noteworthy in that it did not limit considerations of knowledge transfer to just business.  In other words, the examination is a bit broader than the traditional treatment of this topic in the United States.  We’re typically focused on commercialization in the U.S., which is why the phrase knowledge transfer is rarely heard here – our term of art is technology transfer.  In an age where broader impact criteria are more common, and funded research programs are more tightly coupled to public policy goals (see the NSF’s Science of Science Policy program), questions of how well knowledge of all kinds is transferred deserves additional attention.  But I will not hold my breath in anticipation of these questions being asked.

2 Responses to “UK Parliament Examining Research Knowledge Transfer”

  1. Gerald Barnett Says:

    Knowledge transfer has also been a concern in Canada. See SSHRC’s publications, such as here General idea is to mobilize social science resources to improve the knowledge flow from research to community. Let’s just say that because something is reported by a government agency doesn’t necessarily mean there’s much of a difference in practice.

    “Knowledge” transfer is what universities aim to do through classroom instruction, publications, conferences, consulting, extension courses, industry consortia. To push things, one has to specify just what sort of “knowledge” one wishes to see transferred with greater effort than otherwise. Government agencies can promote venues for such transfer, but can’t generally, like, force people to “learn”. It’s not easy. Otherwise, why does it often take a graduate education to get at new knowledge with sufficient fluency to be usefully applied?

    “Knowledge” is clearly not just factoids that can be boxed up and shipped out. Making things “open” doesn’t begin to touch it. Fact knowledge, tacit knowledge, declarative memory, intuition, judgment, ability to work in a team, ability to handle complex stuff–many things go into what comes over as “knowledge” worth being transferred. University “technology transfer” reflects knowledge (and rights) transfer connected to that particular, somewhat ambiguous research event known as ‘invention.”

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  3. David Bruggeman Says:

    Thanks Gerald. It’s nice to know how other countries are engaged with these issues. I’m even more persuaded that defining knowledge transfer (and related concepts) will probably need to be done every time the issue comes up, since – as you note – various things have to be specified.

    To what extent is there an interest in, or efforts to stimulate, knowledge transfer in other directions than research to community?