Real Impact - Issue 2


ISSUE 2. MAY 2020


How universities are responding to a global pandemic

Page 4

The gender divide in mentoring in academia

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Why business education may be key to gender parity at work Page 8

Turning research into action

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Developing new models for High Impact Research

Page 14

Research impact remains a top priority

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Collaboration success through interdisciplinary research

Page 18

Celebrating Real Impact

Page 19

How the COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate change across research and education

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Emerald Brand Ambassadors

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Welcome to our second edition of Real Impact!

When we launched our first issue of Real Impact, we did not expect to be writing our second edition during the lockdown of a global pandemic. So we start this issue, firstly by saying we hope you are keeping well and safe in these uncertain times. Within these issues, we discuss the topics that matter to you, the issues that are pressing and what do we, as a combined academic and publishing community have to say about them. We believe that working collectively we can make a difference and find ways to push forward on the issues at hand, and of course COVID-19 is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. By listening to the diverse voices, viewpoints, expertise and knowledge of people across our communities, we believe we can make a real impact. Here we hope to do just that, but unpicking the topics that matter and looking to see where we can make a difference. You can sign up to receive your digital issues of Real Impact as they are released.

Tamsyn Johnston-Hughes PR Manager



Campuses around the world have closed their doors and moved operations online to stop the spread of COVID-19. Whilst for many the change has been a success, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. We spoke to university faculty across the world to find out how the crisis is impacting their institutions and what this might mean in the long-run.

from women in the last month. Never seen anything like it ”. In response, many suggested that female academics were now juggling childcare and domestic responsibilities, preventing them from prioritising research. A new teaching model Looking ahead at the potential long-term impact of the pandemic on higher education and there is a widespread view that the shift to online education will be long-lasting. Leonard is of the opinion that education is witnessing a paradigm shift that is necessary to effectively serve the modern world. “At Lingnan, we plan to maintain online teaching and learning even after face-to-face classes are resumed,” he says. “We in higher education must accept the reality of a paradigm shift. In the new world of tertiary education, colleges and universities will need to develop the requisite technological infrastructure and expertise, raise faculty competence.” Farzad agrees that we will not go back to the education model pre-COVID-19. “I believe this will show itself as a paradigm shift in working cultures and universities will be more receptive of allowing staff to spend more time working from home,” he says. When considering the future impact of the crisis on higher education, Jeffrey notes that a permanent move to online education will require much more than a simple transfer of information. “There is more awareness that effective online instruction requires thorough design considerations and is more complicated than merely trying to replicate on-campus lecturing and testing,” he adds.

“There is more awareness that effective online instruction requires thorough design considerations and is more complicated than merely trying to replicate on-campus lecturing and testing” Jeffrey Alstete

Iona College, USA, has also been swift to help its community during lockdown. “Local communities were aided with tutoring services to elementary school children, donating supplies to medical facilities, and outreach to senior homes,” says Dr. Jeffrey, Alstete, Professor of Management at Iona College and Co-Editor of Emerald’s journal, Quality Assurance in Education . From his standpoint, universities must learn important lessons from the pandemic, particularly when it comes to their societal responsibilities: “The takeaways from this event include increased understanding about the importance of emergency preparedness to maintain continuity of service and the abilities that higher education expertise has to serve society,” he adds. Loss of income from foreign students As universities adjust to the initial impact of the crisis, attention is turning to the long-term implications that might result. A major concern is the potential loss of income from international students. A report by Moody’s Investors Service predicts a decline in enrolments in countries including the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. The report suggests that the US will be hardest hit, due to lower government funding but that the UK Government is less likely to cut university funding. The UK Government recently announced a support package that includes bringing forward £2.6 billion in tuition fees and £100 million in research funding. In the UK, Farzad underlines the sector’s apprehension over a likely fall in enrolment. “All universities are concerned about losing the business of international students partially or fully for the next academic year,” he says. Jayson echoes the fear of a potential decline in student numbers, adding that his university in Kentucky are preparing for various scenarios, including a fully online experience for the start of the next academic year. “The key here is to shift the thinking from emergency remote learning, which is a response to the pandemic, to thinking about robust, online learning experiences for students that are engaging, thoughtful, and well planned,” explains Jayson, who is also Co-Editor of Emerald’s Journal of Educational Administration . Impact on research projects Beyond, the impact of the crisis on student enrolment, universities are also bracing themselves for a potential cut to research funding. Farzad says his university in Teesside was already feeling the financial implications of the crisis. “We are losing some of the research income from industry-funded projects as the companies are facing uncertainties these days,” he says. Emmanuel repeats similar concerns but is starting to see the rise of new projects. “University members are in close contact with different funding agencies about extension of their projects,” he says. “A number of new partnerships and focused research projects have already been implemented responding to the need for information.” For some academics who are parents, particularly mums, research has been affected because of childcare responsibilities during the lockdown. Elizabeth Hannon, Deputy Editor of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science took to Twitter to reveal the potential impact COVID-19 was having on female academics. She tweeted, “ Negligible number of submissions to the journal

“We plan to maintain online teaching and learning even after face-to-face classes are resumed. We in higher education must accept

Innovation in education Empty lecture theatres and deserted laboratories have become the norm at many universities across the globe. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, universities took the radical decision to shift all teaching and assessment online, providing students and faculty support through online networks and groups. Associate Professor Jayson W Richardson and his colleagues at the Department of Educational Leadership Studies, University of Kentucky, USA, have been helping other faculty successfully make the move to online teaching and learning. “Being a large research endeavour, the University of Kentucky was not prepared for such a sudden shift. However, pockets of innovation have popped up,” he says. His department, for example, moved their courses and programmes online years ago and are using that expertise to help others in the college. Universities in Hong Kong were probably more prepared than most for the digital shift. Professor Leonard K Cheng, President of Lingnan University, Hong Kong, explains that due to social unrest, all programmes and courses were moved online in November 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak. “Our faculty and students started to use Moodle and pre-recorded videos to substitute for face-to-face classes,” he says. “That experience helped both faculty and students to transit to a long period of real time online teaching and learning.” For Dr Farzad Rahimian, Reader in Digital Engineering and Manufacturing, Teesside University, UK, the move to online for teaching, team meetings and ongoing research projects has been positive. “To be honest, I have been practising this for years, and I would say it works as good as a physical classroom, even better in many respects,” he says. Supporting faculty and students While celebrating their successes, researchers are also quick to point out the challenges of the move to online education. Farzad notes that not all staff at his university have been able to work

from home, due to lack of skills and/or access to technology. “For those that could work from home, there was an initial pressure of loading online materials for the entire semester,” adds Farzad, who is also Editor-in-Chief of Emerald’s journal, Smart and Sustainable Built Environment. Students are also struggling. Professor JC Gaillard at The University of Auckland, New Zealand and Co-Editor of Emerald’s journal, Disaster Prevention and Management explains that at his university, some students are facing financial and logistical problems. “We are providing a hardship fund for PhD students and have laptops on loan for students who don’t have their own device at home,” he says. The University of Copenhagen has responded to the pandemic by creating a crisis team to tackle some of the issues arising from campus closures. “We have been encouraging our students, alumni and colleagues to share their experiences through different fora such as blogs and interviews, ” adds Emmanuel Raju, Associate Professor at the Global Health Section and Co-Chair of Centre for Disaster Research (COPE) and Co-Editor of Emerald’s Disaster Prevention and Management . How universities are helping their communities In addition to helping students and faculty, universities across the globe are using their skills and resources to help their communities. At Lingnan University, Leonard explains how they are helping to solve health and hygiene issues among the underprivileged living in Hong Kong’s notorious ‘sub-divided units’. “Guided by our motto ‘Education for Service’, we launched a project, with financial support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, to disinfect 1,000 ‘sub-divided units’ by making mobile UV-C systems and carrying out the disinfection work. Other universities in Hong Kong have also been making contributions such as making reusable masks, temperature sensor system, and antiseptic liquids.”

the reality of a paradigm shift” Professor Leonard K Cheng

The future role of the academic library Part of that future design could include a change in the function of the academic library. Joseph Esposito, Senior Partner at Clarke & Esposito, USA – a management consulting firm that provides strategic services to publishers – believes that the academic library will play an essential role in the delivery of future education. “Libraries have made a herculean effort to accommodate the sudden demand for online courses, and helping to provide textbooks is part of this,” he says. “This is one of the emergency-era actions that is likely to survive the crisis. […] we should expect to see librarians play a role in the undergraduate curriculum that is different in kind and degree from what we have grown familiar with over the years.” Coronavirus and the management of epidemics and the wider impact on society We have brought together a number of research resources related to the coronavirus group of viruses, and epidemics more broadly. View the content on the Emerald Publishing website




“When I arrive at an event in heels

and makeup, in a bright dress, I might not be the tweed jacket and leather elbow patched figure of wisdom and authority some people expect” Professor Katy Shaw

Mentoring gaps Mentoring is clearly essential to career progression in general, and may be even more so for females. Initiatives such as Aurora and the Athena SWAN Charter promote the value of mentoring for female academics and many HEIs have also created formal mentoring programmes, with some specifically aimed at women. But with programmes limited to specific areas and certain groups, Katy explains why mentoring approaches must go much further. “I think early career researchers tend to be effectively mentored and cared for by HEIs, to embed them and establish their trajectory and expectations and practices. And this is great, and a wise investment. But after that it gets rather patchy. The mid-career ‘rump’ (as I call it) of colleagues who are maybe one or two big research projects and publications into their careers, but who now are also juggling academic leadership roles in teaching, research or management, are comparatively left in stasis. It’s only when they reach the point of pushing the ceiling of professorship that mentoring sometimes steps in again to help them over the line with their applications for promotion.” “Research mentoring is also often confused with mentoring more generally – it’s great to be given that level of framed support in one area, but it does suggest a value call about where its ‘worth’ developing staff. I would always want to see every colleague with a 360 degree mentor for their own professional development, as well as ones for research in addition to this, and line managers for any more immediate personal issues.” “The best mentoring systems are self-renewing – mentors look after mentees that will themselves go on to mentor others in time – creating a brilliant ecosystem of networking and advancement.”

Change is coming The holistic development that the best mentoring programmes provide can be a valuable tool in defeating barriers to gender equality such as stereotyping. Katy is aware first-hand of how tough it can sometimes be to be taken seriously when you don’t conform to tradition: “If you ask a child what a professor looks like I still worry that they would draw a man with crazy hair in a lab coat. I am very aware that as a woman you get pulled up a lot more for how you look, how you speak, as well as what you say and write. I have had a lot of social media feedback about how I look – when I arrive at an event in heels and makeup, in a bright dress, I might not be the tweed jacket and leather elbow patched figure of wisdom and authority some people expect.” “The first time you encounter a tension like that, it stops you in your tracks. The second time you encounter it, it empowers you. Stereotypes only change when you challenge them by offering new realities, and glass ceilings only break when you keep kicking your heels against them. The degree of resilience that takes is something that mentoring can help with – when you know you’re not the only one knocking your head against this stuff, it makes you aware that it’s more of a team effort, and that change is coming.” Click here to read more about our Inspiring Voices campaign for International Women’s Day and hear more from industry experts on their views and experiences on mentoring.

“It’s that sharing of the plurality of experiences of being a female in a leadership role that is so beneficial.” Northumbria University Professor Katy Shaw on how women might finally smash the glass ceiling.

was assigned a clear line manager and a separate research mentor and was supported in finding independent mentors of my own from beyond the Higher Education Institute (HEI). However, I have been informally mentored by lots of women across my career, although at the time I don’t think we would have seen it as mentoring in that sense.” “Often ‘mentoring’ consisted of a cup of tea and a chat, a debrief over gin or a two-minute pep talk while one of us struggled to change the toner in the photocopier between teaching. But it was all of those snatched moments combined, that led to a real culture of support and sharing of experience and knowledge.” Lessons learned Now a mentor to other women at many levels, both in and outside of Higher Education, Katy believes that all female colleagues should be given the opportunity to learn from a mentor. In her experience, mentoring leads to improved knowledge and practice, and opens up opportunities: “It’s that sharing of the plurality of experiences of being a female in a leadership role that is so beneficial. We all tend to assume that we are the only ones to be encountering a challenge (aka imposter syndrome sometimes), or that things are specific to our industry (this is where external mentoring works a treat), and that issues are there to be overcome in silence as this is a sign of strength. In fact, a problem shared is a massive cross-sector lesson learned, and it’s bringing in experience of similar issues in other industries that can enhance practice and knowledge across the board. The same goes for opportunities too, by sharing and engaging in dialogue we open up chances and advantages rather than closing them down.”

We are at a time in history where there are more female academics in leadership positions than ever before, but despite these gains, inequality persists. Mentoring, along with gender mainstreaming and positive action policies, are common initiatives that are understood to play an important role in helping women build successful academic careers (Powell, 2018). Not all mentoring programmes, however, are created equal and experiences vary widely. Research into academic mentoring is still developing and much more work is needed to understand its long-term effects, particularly its role in institutional change (Meschitti & Smith, 2017). Within this context, we are exploring how the right mentoring approaches can help female academics achieve their full potential. In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, we spoke to industry experts across the world to get their views and experiences on mentoring. One of them was Professor Katy Shaw, Professor of Contemporary Writings and Deputy Head of Humanities at Northumbria University, UK. Struck by her passion for mentoring and its role in moving gender equality forward, we wanted to find out more. In our follow up interview featured here, she shares her experiences of being a mentee and now a mentor to female academics. She offers insights on the challenges to gender equality, the benefits/shortcomings of particular mentoring approaches and a burgeoning hope that change is coming. Tea and a chat Katy like other female academics wasn’t formally mentored until years into her career, but the informal mentoring she received along the way has played a vital role in her progression: “It was only really when I arrived at Northumbria [in 2017] that I




“With women now nearing equity on the business school campus, more eyes are focused on the types of leaders and leadership styles we are reflecting to the MBA

student body” Elissa Sangster

More women than ever before are advancing to company boards and landing the very top posts, but they are still in the minority. Here, we take a look at the progress on gender equality in the workplace, why business education needs an overhaul and the initiatives that are helping to empower women and accelerate their careers.

We all know how important role models are in life, and it’s no different in the workplace – if you can’t see it, it’s hard to be it. Role models are particularly important for students and young professionals who are just beginning to etch out their careers. But the lack of female role models in business is still one of the main barriers to women’s career progression – they need to see how the journey to success can be made in a women’s shoes. In ISACA’s SheLeadsTech programme 2019 report, more than half (56%) of women cite the lack of female role models as the key reason for female underrepresentation in the tech sector globally. The Entrepreneurs Network and Octopus Group likewise identify a lack of female role models as one of the main barriers to gender equality in entrepreneurship. In their 2019 report, ‘Future founders: Understanding the next generation of entrepreneurs’, they note that 50% of young men, aged 14-25, could name an entrepreneur they admired, but only 35% of young women of that age could do the same. And of those named, just 15% were female. Maybe this is no surprise, because although more women are being promoted to senior levels within businesses and carving out their own enterprises, there still aren’t enough of them. McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org, for example, report women in the US as occupying 21% of senior manager/director posts in 2019, up from 17% in 2015. Men still dominate the boardroom Looking more specifically, Equilar report women holding just over a fifth (20.2%) of Russell 3000 board posts in 2019, while the ‘Spencer Stuart Perspective for 2019’ state them occupying 26% of S&P 500 board director positions. Figures fall considerably for women CEOs, for example, the Fortune 500 records women holding just 6.6% of those positions in 2019. In the UK, figures tumble again, and in 2020 women are at the helm of just 5% of FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) 100 companies and 2% of FTSE 250 companies.

Shift the focus to entrepreneurship, and the forecast (at least in the US) is brighter – the gap between men and women’s Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) is closing, standing at 17.7% and 13.6% respectively in 2018, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) US 2018/19 Report. In the UK, figures aren’t as hopeful, showing a TEA rate of 10.5% for men, compared to only 5.2% for women, notes the GEM UK 2018 Report. Business schools must play their part It’s clear that the number of women in senior roles is increasing, however, there’s much more work to be done. So how can progress be made? One answer could lie within business education. The US-based Forté Foundation believes that business education, along with role models, professional networks and leadership training, are vital in helping to advance women’s careers. Since 2001, the organisation has been helping to increase women’s enrolment in business schools, advance their business careers and rebalance the workplace. Through their initiatives they have seen women’s enrolment at Forté partner Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) schools increase from 28% in 2001 to 39% in 2019. The increase in women’s enrolment is a huge achievement, but Elissa Sangster, Forté Foundation CEO, points out business school culture and teaching haven’t kept pace and that there is still a gender imbalance in faculty, guest speakers and case papers. “With women now nearing equity on the business school campus, more eyes are focused on the types of leaders and leadership styles we are reflecting to the MBA student body,” she says. “For both men and women, it is important to see diverse leaders and leadership styles, otherwise, we aren’t preparing them for the future. We’re not giving women the aspirational goals of leadership by showcasing successful women leaders, and for men we’re not familiarising them with leadership styles different from their own.”



To help address the need for more cases with women leaders, Emerald Publishing, The Case for Women, and Forté have partnered to offer a case competition focused on female case protagonists, the aim of which is to encourage and promote the development of high-quality teaching case material that positively represents real women in leadership positions in the workplace. All case submissions will be considered for international publication in a new eCase collection by Emerald Publishing. The total prize fund for the collection is US $10,000. Prizes are awarded to the overall winner and two runners-up. Judging criteria: • Cases should have a female protagonist • Her characteristics as a leader should be described in a positive way • There should be a general balance of genders across the characters in the paper. (This does not need to be precise although an approximate range of between 60:40 either way is considered balanced) • The female protagonist should speak to another woman about the business • Ideally, the industry or setting of the case should not fall into one of the ‘Four F’ categories: food, family, fashion and furniture. This is not a mandatory requirement. More information about the Case Writing Competition and how to enter can be found here. Submissions close September 1, 2020.


Students push for change The push for change isn’t just coming from organisations and advocates like Forté. Interestingly, it’s also being driven by both female and male students, who regularly call on business schools to improve gender equity, explains Elissa. But while most institutions want change, making the shift is complex. “The delivery of the MBA depends on change occurring at a more micro-level requiring every faculty member, from new to tenured, to re-evaluate their curriculum, their speakers, their teaching methods, their style in generating classroom discussion, and much more,” she notes. “It’s not an easy ask, especially for faculty who have been doing this for a very long time, independently, at their pace, with very little oversight.” Despite the challenges, many business schools are committed to change and graduating aspiring leaders that can build inclusive workplaces. “Commitment to education and student success requires us to provide inclusive learning and insight to diverse experiences,” say Taylor Professor of Organizational Behavior, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Jacqueline Carter, and Associate Dean of Diversity & Inclusion, Judi McLean Parks. “If we do not change this narrative, we are failing both our female and male students.” Lack of women leaders in teaching cases The Case for Women is another organisation that is helping to drive change within business schools. Its founder Lesley Symons and her team are principally concerned with the way business leaders are depicted within teaching cases. Through their research they have shown teaching cases to be stuck in an old paradigm, having outdated leadership styles that do not reflect current workplaces. They report that cases have few female protagonists, and therefore, insufficient role models for women – the underlying message is that leaders are male, with male attributes

such as ‘father figure’, ‘results driven’, ‘tough but fair’. In terms of the business schools themselves, Lesley and her team argue that they are not leading the charge, with faculty very resistant to change and conveniently re-teaching the same papers they have for decades. Lesley was the first ever researcher to examine the gender balance of characters present in teaching cases. Her first project looked at 105 competition-winning Case Centre papers from 2009-2018. In that piece of research, she discovered 83 had a male protagonist, compared to just 12 with a female protagonist, of which only 10 were originally women (two changed their names from male to female). A man is mentioned in 103 papers, while a woman is present in 70 papers. In 47 papers, a woman is present, but she doesn’t play a role in the business. In 35 papers, women were not mentioned at all. In six papers she is the only woman. The Symons Test During her cases work, Lesley created the Symons Test as a tool to evaluate papers. To pass the test, the paper must: • Have a woman in it; (encourages women to appear in more case papers) • Who is the protagonist; (encourages women to be shown as leaders: middle, senior managers up to C-suite) • Who speaks to another woman about the business (ensures she isn’t the only woman in the paper) Applying this to the Case Centre papers she found, 70 have a woman, in 12 she is the leader and in four she speaks to another woman about the business. Following that work, Lesley and her team contacted the Forté Foundation and MBA Roundtable to conduct similar work on over 600 MBA case papers from seven prominent US business schools.

They applied the Symons Test to the MBA papers and then compared them to the Case Centre papers. They found that women were mentioned in 67% of Case Centre papers and 50% of MBA papers, 11% of Case Centre papers and 17% of MBA papers had a woman protagonist. And just 4% of Case Centre papers and 5% of MBA papers passed the Symons Test. Competition praised Business schools have welcomed the Case Writing competition to address the need for more cases with women leaders. Victoria Parker, Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Faculty Administration, Peter T Paul College of Business and Economics, University of New Hampshire, US, is excited by the new opportunities the cases will offer. “This competition, and the cases it will generate, will be a great resource for business school faculty seeking to diversify the protagonists depicted in teaching cases,” she says. Cases in which women are protagonists, interact with other women, and work across a range of industries will enable faculty to both better reflect the range of roles women currently hold as well to avoid inadvertently passing along implicit biases about what roles women can hold.” Joseph Stephens, Senior Assistant Dean & Director, Working Professional & Executive MBA Programs, The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business, US highlights the importance of the competition, noting that MBAs must be inclusive and prepare leaders for the future business environment. “As the world’s most versatile degree, an MBA should prepare all leaders from all backgrounds to navigate, problem solve, motivate, and to act in the best interests of the greater whole,” he says. “To fully represent everyone who aspires to lead in the world, this initiative provides business schools critical context for developing leaders who are not only ready for where we are, but where we’re going.”

Lesley led the first ever research to examine gender balance of characters present in teaching cases. Developing the Symons Test as a tool to evaluate papers



When should researchers start planning knowledge mobilisation strategies for their research? Chris: There is a strong argument that, not only should knowledge mobilisation activities be considered at the start of any project, but potential stakeholders for your research should also be included in the research process straight from the get-go. By including policymakers and practitioners at the beginning, we can make sure our project is addressing the main issues these groups face and that we haven’t neglected something crucial. Early inclusion of stakeholders also means we start to generate interest in our work from its inception and can cultivate champions who will promote and discuss our findings with others. Vitally, including stakeholders from the start also means they can help us design knowledge mobilisation processes that are likely to work: both in terms of how knowledge is mobilised, as well as ensuring there is an audience for that knowledge. Stakeholders may also have networks, tool kits and a social media presence that can be tapped into to ensure that findings are propagated widely. Lesley: Researchers should think about knowledge mobilisation from the very beginning, when their project is just a hazy idea and long before they have any clear research questions. To design relevant research, researchers need to have conversations with those who actually want the knowledge that the researchers are interested in generating. Otherwise researchers will produce knowledge that is of little interest to policymakers, practitioners or the public. Researchers do not need to have clear knowledge mobilisation strategies from the start. They just need to have clarity about what knowledge will be mobilised, for (and by) whom and for what purpose. Can you share an example of where knowledge mobilisation has been used to enable research to improve practice? Chris: One key example is set out in my new book for Emerald, ‘The Networked School Leader’. Here I look at Research Learning Networks (RLNs) and how participants of these networks mobilised knowledge within their home schools. In the most successful school I looked at, the school leader had ensured that RLN participants were empowered to be leaders - they had authority to act, they had opportunities to interact with others and they understood what effective leadership entailed. As a result, these participants successfully mobilised knowledge by working with their school colleagues to share what they had learnt in the RLN

to ensure this process of sharing involved opportunities to engage with and further develop the insights emerging from the learning network. It has also enabled colleagues to work collaboratively to turn this new knowledge into action (in terms of new approaches to teaching) and to then work together to evaluate the success (or not) of these new ways of working. This approach not only led to new forms of practice, but student outcomes also improved. Lesley: Yes, look at the ‘ examples of our work ’ page and the evaluations, especially the third and last one. What are the next steps for knowledge mobilisation within institutions? Chris: Mobilisation is not well understood by practitioners, policymakers or academics. It is also relatively complex in the sense that there are many elements to consider. For example, who should mobilise? Which in itself can be better understood if we explore things such as social capital networks. How should we mobilise and what role does the change leadership have here? How can we measure whether our efforts have been successful? And this is just for starters. For me, therefore, what is needed are effective development programmes not only for those undertaking research, but also for those who lead schools or make policies or have to facilitate change processes. I think once we have these and proof that they are leading to better decision making and outcomes, most people will soon be onboard with knowledge mobilisation. Lesley: If institutions want their research to make a difference, then the first steps are to: 1. Resource knowledge mobilisation properly – institutions need to employ people with knowledge mobilisation expertise to build capacity and capability across the institution. A few people covering faculties of hundreds of researchers is not sufficient. 2. Create levers – change promotion schemes so that conducting knowledge mobilisation activities counts as much in progression as 4* papers and grant funding. They should be rewarded for developing relationships, trying to adapt their research to real-world contexts and carrying out knowledge mobilisation activities. At the moment, this is not incentivised, despite being highly resource intensive. 3. Increase skills – improve researchers’ capacity and capability for knowledge mobilisation by investing in knowledge mobilisation training for all interested researchers, especially those who consider their research ‘applied’.


For many researchers and universities around the world, knowledge mobilisation and similar activities such as knowledge transfer, knowledge exchange and knowledge translation have become essential to their work in recent years, and it was cited as the biggest change the academic community felt necessary to improve research impact in our 2019 Change Ready Report. To understand more about knowledge mobilisation in practice, its challenges/benefits and future development within institutions, we spoke to Professor Chris Brown, Professor in Education at Durham University, UK and Dr Lesley Wye, Consultant in Knowledge Mobilisation at the Centre for Academic Primary Care, Bristol Medical School, UK. There are many definitions and models of knowledge mobilisation, but what does it mean to you? Chris: Knowledge mobilisation is how we get research and new ideas into practice. But one of the key things about mobilisation is that it isn’t transmission. In other words, knowledge mobilisation does away with the assumption that, just because we have made

something available, people will engage with it. Knowledge mobilisation thus involves recognition that change is socially mediated, and that people are more likely to act in response to new knowledge when it is introduced as part of interactive and ideally facilitated processes. For example, such a process might involve practitioners or policymakers being supported to see how the findings from academic research augment, deepen or even challenge what they already know and how they might think or act differently as a result. Lesley: Knowledge mobilisation is about different communities sharing knowledge to catalyse change. Knowledge mobilisation are the processes that lead to impact, such as networking, educational events, co-production, embedding new procedures. What role does knowledge mobilisation play in getting research into practice? Chris: A key driver for knowledge mobilisation is closing the research to practice policy gap. Knowledge mobilisation helps practitioners, policymakers and the public engage with knowledge in a variety of ways and supports them to make decisions informed by this knowledge. It means that new approaches to, say teaching and learning, police work, social care or a range of other similar public practices, are likely to be more impactful. This is because when knowledge mobilisation is successful it helps arm decision makers with a better understanding of how new approaches might achieve their desired effect, who they might be effective for and in what circumstances. Lesley: It’s essential. Without knowledge mobilisation, it’s hard to create impact. Because knowledge is exchanged both ways, it also means that researchers learn about relevant questions and actually design useful research. They learn first-hand what practitioners, policymakers and the public need to know.

Professor Chris Brown is Professor in Education at Durham University’s School of Education. His latest book, The Networked School Leader: How to Improve Teaching and Student Outcomes using Learning Networks, offers practical advice for school

Dr Lesley Wye specialises in getting healthcare research into practice. Her work focuses on how researchers and healthcare commissioners can work together to inform local policy making about healthcare services. Lesley manages

leaders on how to harness the benefits of Professional Learning Networks. Alongside his research into PLNs, Chris also has a long-standing interest in how research evidence can and should, but often doesn’t, aid the development of education policy and practice. Here, Chris has edited/ authored five books, including Achieving Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice in Education (Emerald Publishing, 2017).

a multidisciplinary team of commissioners, researchers and a communications officer, known as the Bristol Knowledge Mobilisation Team. They have joint appointments in the University and local commissioning organisations such as Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group and South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit.



DEVELOPING NEW MODELS FOR HIGH IMPACT RESEARCH Finite resources, sustainability and pressing global challenges are some of the factors that have led to a growing need for academics to carry out research that is relevant to society and has real-world impact. For many researchers, however, the journey to measurable impact is a challenging one.

What is High Impact Research? Victor: High Impact Research is three things: 1.  Moving from a traditional ‘publication push’ approach to research, towards a ‘research impact’ approach 2.  Adapting to deliver impactful research strategies based on the latest thinking in research impact as a practice 3.  Testing hypotheses: establishing the value of implementing a theory or idea and measuring the results. What are the biggest barriers to achieving real impact and how might they be overcome? Victor: From the workshop we held, we outlined five main problems; the problems and solutions go together: 1. Tradition: The researcher being a detached observer rather than an involved participant. The tradition of the career progression model also works against High Impact. Tradition needs to evolve to succeed. 2. Cultural shift involving a different way of working: Moving from the individual ‘star’ academics to collaboration involving networks – communities bridging academics and practice. Working in an agile way and being prepared to ‘kill’ projects at the right time. 3. Funding motivation: Funding bodies need to choose to accelerate this cultural shift. Without their support this will be difficult. 4. Lack of practice: We need universities to include prototyping. It would be great if we could persuade Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to include the HIR concept strategically when constructing their research portfolios. 5. Ecosystems: Who are you building your key relationships with? Universities don’t talk about this. There needs to be investment in ecosystems in order to build and develop HIR networks. More strategic foresight into who they want and need to work with.

“Looking at Emerald’s Change Ready Report (2019), the statistics show that there is recognition that the current academic model is unsustainable, but the academic paradigm doesn’t reward a jump from ship” Victor Newman

United by an interest in the barriers and solutions to impact, and supported by a combined background in academia, business and innovation, Professor Paul Phillips, Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Kent, UK and Professor Victor Newman, an Industrial Fellow at the University of Greenwich Business School, UK have been exploring ways to close the gap between research and practice. Through this collaborative work, the duo developed an approach to research impact that they believe would help to evolve the impact conversation. Paul and Victor identified traditional academic culture as one of the main challenges to impact and called for a ‘new game’ to be established to realise High Impact Research (HIR). Aware of Emerald’s work on Real Impact, they approached us to help facilitate the first HIR Workshop. The workshop brought together academics and industry (now known as the HIR Working Group) to work on a cultural-change model process that will help academic institutions move towards a research impact approach. Here, Paul and Victor discuss the concept of HIR, the models they are developing and the next stages for the group.

What’s next for the HIR Working Group?

Paul: We’re still in the early stages, but we’re developing the work we’ve done with the models to take them to the next step – getting some collaboration with universities to test the approach. We’re also looking at who are the best people to collaborate with on this within HEIs, ensuring we’re working with universities as a whole and not just within the management context. As this grows, we’d like to extend the working group, to create a network from where we can collaborate. Victor: One of the challenges is actively engaging people for action: many academics accept the problem, but they think this won’t affect them (i.e. they’ll be out of academia before the change happens). Looking at Emerald’s Change Ready Report (2019), the statistics show that there is recognition that the current academic model is unsustainable, but the academic paradigm doesn’t reward a jump from the current ‘ship’. The biggest change is shifting from being interested to being engaged, in impactful research.  If you would like to learn more about the HIR Working Group, or discuss how HIR could apply to your research, please get in touch: @impactofimpact

“The current ‘academic culture’ is strong – this needs to change in order for academics to play this new game”

Professor Paul A. Phillips Professor Victor Newman

Paul Phillips

JOIN THE DEBATE Our Impact Manifesto launched in 2018, calls for change and leads the publishing charge towards meaningful impact. As part of this Emerald wants to help to facilitate debate, and give a platform to a variety of contributions focused on driving the impact agenda forward, regardless of scale of change that is felt. If you’ve got a point of view and want to share, please join the debate.  Join the debate here

How can this approach help research achieve societal impact? Paul: There’s a significant time lag between research being completed and getting into the hands of practice – estimates are at least 5 to 10 years. Academic research is slow to permeate into practice. HIR must go faster to reach practice quicker, so that practice can reach society quicker. Management consultants tend to produce solutions that do not reference academic research. What’s interesting is what we’ve seen with COVID-19, where evidence-based solutions have been vital. The examples with how research and practice are working together for COVID-19 presents an opportunity for future models.




Looking ahead, our Head of Services, Steve Lodge, discusses why impact must remain a priority for research, steps that should be taken to keep impact on the agenda and how researchers can benefit from our support.

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s announcement in January stated that grant applicants would no longer be required to submit a ‘Pathways to Impact’ plan, sending shockwaves throughout the research community. The news was met with mixed reactions, welcomed by those who saw the impact planning section no more than a tick-box exercise, and snubbed by others who felt it could be damaging to the future of the impact agenda, at least in the UK. In their announcement, the UKRI were quick to underline their enduring commitment to impact, drawing attention to the organisation’s role in helping embed impact in research culture over the past decade. Reinforcing their pledge to support impactful research, they noted at the time that “UK Research and Innovation exists to fund the researchers who generate the knowledge that society needs, and the innovators who can turn this knowledge into public benefit”. Since then, there has been much debate within the community about how and to what extent impact should be kept at the forefront of everyone’s agenda. A few months on since the UKRI’s statement and it is clear that impact isn’t going away any time soon. The impact agenda is still very much a priority for the research community in the UK and continues to gain momentum around the world. In terms of policy,

How important is it to prioritise impact within the research landscape? It’s vitally important. There should be a responsibility to ensure that research projects, particularly those that require a vast undertaking and significant public and private funding, can outline a pathway to positive, tangible changes they can affect. These benefits should be systemically recognised in terms of their societal importance, beyond the academic accolades associated with disseminating in highly ranked publications. Impact literacy at the researcher-level is important, but critically, it needs extending to institutions themselves, and questions should be asked as to whether they have the right processes, environment, culture and incentives to allow research impact to thrive. What steps should be taken over the next five years to ensure impact isn’t overlooked, but is enabled and understood by all stakeholders? It’s a significant challenge, but the industry needs to carefully examine its reward systems. Impact is far more than a case study, or a highly-cited article. But it’s fair to say in the majority of cases, it’s these outputs that gain the recognition. In mine and many others’ views, attention should be placed on the research and its societal benefit, rather than peer endorsements in an academic echo chamber. It would be great to see research institutions state their missions clearly, and review whether their ways of working and environment ensure research is well aligned to succeeding in this mission. Many institutions, such as University College London (UCL) and the University of Reading here in the UK, have established dedicated departments that help researchers identify their impact pathways and it would be wonderful to see others follow their lead. Equally, funders have an

enormous part to play to make sure that it’s the research projects that can clearly identify these positive changes and that they can secure the budget required to allow society to reap the benefits. How is Emerald supporting researchers to navigate their own pathways to impact? For starters we’re talking to them as much as we can. One of the first steps is to understand why some may have challenges in identifying their impact pathways. Emerald are talking very openly about the importance of impact literacy and the clear distinction between ‘impact’ and ‘communication’ – which is a pretty unique position for a publisher! We’ve continued to work with those championing impact literacy to create a service that will help researchers navigate this path effectively, and for institutions to do the same. COVID-19 permitting, we still hope to launch this service before the year is out. Planning for impact at the start should lead to more focused attention on positive change as a result of well-planned, collaborative research and enable the outputs to become the foundation for some truly tangible outcomes and compelling stories.

the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 and more loosely the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), remain committed to impact, as do many funders that still require applicants to consider the impact of their work for success. For us as a publisher, our stance hasn’t shifted either – we continue to promote and reward impact and develop tools that will help researchers and institutions plan and carry out research that makes a difference. Hi Steve, what impact do you think the UKRI’s removal of the Pathways to Impact section will have on the research industry? Well on a positive note, it does on the surface remove an administrative layer, which in itself is no bad thing. Measures that reduce a burden on researchers and allow them to focus on their research first and foremost should definitely be encouraged. However, I’ve spoken to a number of managers in the research office that feel a bit aggrieved at having one of their key windows of opportunity to sit down with the researcher and encourage them to think about impact, what they are trying to achieve and how they will get there, taken away from them. Unless pathways to impact are replaced with an appropriate mandate to do this, the fear is that without systems that drive impact, it could pave the way for bias focus on ‘high achievers’ in the traditional sense and ill-considered research project planning. Impact isn’t going away, and focusing overtly on the pathways to impact statement belittles the challenge. My hope is that it’s removal is part of a system-wide review of how impact is treated as well as assessed. And let’s not forget that there are many other funders who continue to ensure impact is a very important part of the application process.

We are working with universities and institutions to create a range of Impact Services that will make ‘healthy impact culture’ a daily reality. If you’re looking for help to navigate your way to impact and ultimately achieve better research outcomes for you and your institution, then Impact Services could be for you. To find out more, register your interest here.



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