Evaluating knowledge transfer at the interface between science and society

Maximilian Schupp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


In view of the global grand challenges, fundamental research institutions are increasingly being asked to provide context for the application of their research findings and to incorporate transdisciplinary forms of knowledge production. But how can the involvement of stakeholders from outside academia be captured and evaluated within the research process? And how can they be engaged in meaningful science-stakeholder dialogue? “Good” processes are a prerequisite for meeting these changing requirements and for ensuring a successful knowledge transfer at the interface between science and society.Societal challenges are increasing on a global scale, requiring an intensification of knowledge transfer (KT) between scientific and societal actors on multiple levels. These transfers bring up new demands regarding the way in which knowledge is produced and transferred, which mechanisms are utilized to ensure the quality of these knowledge interactions, and how such interactions can be evaluated. Capturing and evaluating KT, however, also opens up new reflections about what a meaningful “impact” is and how KTs are shaped and driven. The results presented here were reached by means of a formative and summative evaluation approach, and include an accompanying research effort that aimed to capture central KT processes from start to “finish” by a tailored KT process assessment framework. This framework was applied to the ongoing activities of twelve in-house KT projects (from 2014 to 2017) that were conducted in a fundamental natural science research institution within the field of earth system science. Our findings indicate that, among other things, the continuous assessment of the underlying processes of KT allows for processes and outcomes to be directly influenced, while also providing scope for institutional learning. Better insights into the definition of “societal relevance” may in fact not start with the result, but rather with the question of how the research will be conducted and for whom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-293
Number of pages10
JournalGAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2019


  • evaluation
  • impact of science
  • institutional values
  • knowledge transfer
  • processes assessment
  • quality principles
  • social learning


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