Reflecting on the Tensions of Research Utilization: Understanding the Coupling of Academic and User Knowledge

Paul Benneworth, Julia Olmos-Peñuela
Science and Public Policy

This paper addresses debate of how research is utilized that questions measuring ‘acts of use’ of research (patents, spin-offs, or license income). A science system is a progressive business where research builds upon diverse existing research and knowledge. The extent of research utilization is determined by the extent to which prior research can feed into research that ultimately leads to acts of use. We use the term ‘knowledge transformers’ to refer to research users that transform academic knowledge into the socio-economic domain, and define ‘usability’ of prior research as the ease with which it may contribute to research that knowledge transformers are able to absorb. We argue that total societal benefit from science is ultimately dependent on the extent to which newly created scientific knowledge is cognate with knowledge transformers’ knowledge. More consideration is needed of the processes by which research creates usable knowledge in different kinds of research practices.