From Chain to Net: assessing interdisciplinary contributions to academic impact through narrative case studies

Catharine Ross, Lynn Nichol, Carole Elliott, Sally Sambrook, Jim Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Interdisciplinary working plays an important role in achieving impact outside academia. One barrier to interdisciplinary working is the lack of mechanisms to assess contributions from outside the primary discipline. Positioning our research in debates about knowledge translation, we analyse the ability of narrative cases to assess the interdisciplinary contribution of one academic discipline, Human Resource Development (HRD), to impact. We take the example of the cases used to assess impact in the UK's 2014 Research Excellence Framework evaluation (REF 2014). While the narrative cases revealed the complexity of knowledge translation and the role of HRD practice in it, their authorship by a single discipline imposed a linear structure and prevented interdisciplinary contributions from HRD academics from being recognised in the formal assessment. To facilitate the assessment of interdisciplinary contributions to academic impact, we propose remodelling the knowledge translation process as a net of cases rather than a single chain.

© 2020, Society for Research into Higher Education. The attached document (embargoed until 09/08/2021) is an author produced version of a paper published in STUDIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1080/03075079.2020.1723522
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages17
Early online date9 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Feb 2020


  • Impact
  • REF
  • Knowledge Exchange
  • Human Resource Development

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