KEF review mentions Overton as potential tool for tracking policy impact

Overton referenced in Research England’s ‘Review of the first iteration of the Knowledge Exchange Framework’ as a source of data for policy mentions.

Engaging with stakeholders outside of higher education has become a key area of focus for UK universities. Knowledge Exchange teams play an integral role in these activities, building relationships with communities, businesses, public bodies and others to find opportunities for academic knowledge and research capacity to be used for real world purposes.

The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) was brought in to provide comparable, benchmarked and publicly available performance information about English universities’ knowledge exchange activities and has been led by Research England since 2018. The results of the first iteration of KEF were launched in March 2021 and Research England has recently published a review of the KEF process and the measures, following consultation with the sector in the form of surveys, workshops and focus groups.

Policy impact was not included in the first iteration of the KEF but it was raised as a potential addition for future versions and RE presented a draft logic model for policy engagement pathways. When discussing how to incorporate policy impact, the KE professionals who were consulted raised lack of visibility of activity and a lack of reliable data as barriers to successful measurement and benchmarking of policy impact. 

Overton was mentioned on page 90 of the report as a suggested future source of this information.

One potential metric idea well received by the group involved tracking the number of policy document citations using an example database tool named ‘Overton’. The group considered this tool to be a low burden method for incorporating counts of policy document citations in the KEF.

KEF review by Research england

As policy impact becomes more mainstream within academia through (for example through REF and equivalent frameworks) Overton are keen to help bodies such as Research England incorporate policy citation data in a way that is fair reflection of actual impact.

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