Press release: Knowledge exchange networks can support REF ‘impact’

Lord Stern’s review of the Research Excellence Framework has set out a series of recommendations towards ensuring that the UK’s science base remains at the forefront of global research. This includes the need to widen and deepen the notion of impact with the aim of better recognising research that has influence on investment and decision-making.

In responding to this review, UKCIP Director Roger Street said that knowledge exchange, a priority of the Adaptation and Resilience in the Context of Change (ARCC) network, is being seen as critical to demonstrating impact.

“In our latest review into coordinating a knowledge exchange network, we uncovered that the ARCC network already hit many of the points raised by Lord Stern in his review,” he said.

“Lord Stern’s review made recommendations to improve the understanding of the investments in research, particularly in light of maximising the value of those investments.

“We have found that a dedicated knowledge exchange function across multiple research projects creates a greater impact than just being left to the sum of its parts.

“Senior researchers who work with us have told us of the value of a research community in which members can collaborate rather than compete, and that early career researchers value our training programme that opened their eyes to seeing research through the eyes of the range of stakeholders involved, including government and industry.

“Our funders at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have realised our value in demonstrating impact for some time now, having invested in the ARCC network since 2009.

“They have seen how we have been able to influence outputs directed at stakeholders, and how the network has also been able to enhance the quality of their research investments, including cross-project collaboration.

“It is through coordinating mechanisms like a knowledge exchange network that the UK can enhance the social, economic and environmental benefit from its research investments by incentivising collaboration and placing stronger emphasis on generating impact beyond specifically identified research outputs.”

The ARCC network brings together the research, policy and practice communities and supports collaboration for a robust built environment and infrastructure sectors. The network is an EPSRC-funded project of UKCIP, based at the University of Oxford, and helps organisations, sectors and governments adapt and build resilience in the context of the changes we are facing through practice-based knowledge exchange and mobilisation, and by providing support and advice to the network communities.

The ARCC research Lessons on coordinating a knowledge exchange network is available in summary form or in full.

Lord Stern’s independent review was officially released on 28 July 2016. It was commissioned by the Minister of Universities and Science in November 2015, and is available from

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