As elsewhere, engaging with stakeholders outside the academy has become a key area of focus for UK institutions. Knowledge Exchange teams play an integral role in these activities, building relationships with communities, businesses, public bodies and others to find opportunities for academic knowledge and research capacity to be used for real world purposes.
The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) was brought in to provide comparable, benchmarked and publicly available performance information about English universities' knowledge exchange activities and has been led by Research England since 2018. The results of the first iteration of KEF were launched in March 2021 and Research England has recently published a review of the KEF process
and the measures, following consultation with the sector in the form of surveys, workshops and focus groups.
Policy impact was not included in the first iteration of the KEF but it was raised as a potential addition for future versions and RE presented a draft logic model for policy engagement pathways. When discussing how to incorporate policy impact, the KE professionals who were consulted raised lack of visibility of activity and a lack of reliable data as barriers to successful measurement and benchmarking of policy impact. However we were really pleased to see Overton mentioned as a future source of this information (see p90 of the review publication
We think policy is a major route to impact and influence but one which has historically been poorly understood due to the inherent complexity of the policymaking process and also because evidence of policy activity is often hard to surface.
At Overton we've been working to enhance our collective understanding of policy making pathways and to uncover the nuances. For example our policy citation data allows exploration of the time between scholarly output and policy impact, how research reaches policy organisations directly and indirectly, and how policymaking processes differ between countries.
As policy impact becomes more mainstream within academia through (for example through REF and equivalent frameworks) we are keen to help bodies such as Research England incorporate policy citation data in a way that is fair reflection of actual impact.