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Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange Competition

Open to all social science PhD students registered at SGSSS member institutions, regardless of funder.

Researchers increasingly need to demonstrate not only an original contribution to the academy, but also how their work makes a demonstrable contribution to society. This could be achieved through work with policy-makers, community groups and third sector organisations, or private sector businesses.

The Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange Competition gives you the chance to showcase the transformative work you have been doing on your project, and the impact this has made.

Competition entry guidelines

Current social science PhD students in their second year or later from SGSSS member institutions across Scotland are invited to submit examples of Impact and Knowledge Exchange (KE) arising from work deriving from their PhD studies. The competition is open to all social science PhD students, whether part-time or full-time, and however funded.

One application may be submitted per student and the example of work should either derive from the PhD research project itself, from a successful Overseas Institutional Visit, or an Internship organised through SGSSS.

For purposes of the competition, the definitions of Impact/KE that we will utilise are provided below. You should only submit an application relating to a previously submitted entry if significant new Knowledge Exchange or Impact activities have taken place to augment the previous entry.


The best 10 entries will be given the opportunity to present a poster about their research impact at the annual SGSSS ‘Collaboration Showcase’ event at the V&A Dundee on 13 May 2020.

The 2 best poster entries will be awarded a £500 impact fund to be used to expand the impact of their work.  This could include working with an impact champion to develop a Pathway To Impact statement or to organise/attend a networking and dissemination event beyond the academy. 

The entry judged the very best will win a £500 impact fund as well as an iPad. Any or all of the submitted material may be used by SGSSS to illustrate good practice on its website or in other publicity/reporting material. 

How to apply

Submit your application via GradHub by March 18

Definitions of Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange

Research impact may be classed as either: instrumental: influencing the development of policy, practice or service provision, shaping legislation, altering behaviour; or conceptual: contributing to the understanding of policy issues, in so doing allowing the reframing of debates; or capacity building: facilitating the building of capacity through technical and personal skill development1.

Knowledge Exchange (KE) is often regarded as a stepping stone to research impact. According to a recent report to ESRC from the University of Cambridge, KE may be people-based or problem-solving; it may take the form of community-based engagement or of commercialisation. It helps to foster ‘co-production’ of knowledge and the ‘co-definition’ of problems. The researcher integrates into a wider system which embraces community groups and networks of professionals, thus creating a research loop, with dialogue taking place as part of the research process2.

  1. (Accessed 2 July 2017)
  2. Bullock, A. and Hughes, R. (2016) ‘Knowledge exchange and the social sciences: A report to ESRC from the Centre for Business Research’, University of Cambridge, Cambridge.  

2019 Competition

View a gallery of winners and shortlisted entries from the 2019 competition

2018 Competition

View a gallery of winners and shortlisted entries from the 2018 competition