Sgoil Cheumnaichean Saidheans Sòisealta na h-Alba

Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange Competition

Open to all social science PhD students registered at SGSSS member institutions, regardless of funder, the competition reflects the growing need for social science research not only to make an original contribution to the academy but also to make a demonstrable contribution to society and the economy and to benefit individuals, organisations and/or nations

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
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 of their submission at the annual SGSSS ‘Collaboration Showcase’ event at the V&A Dundee on 13 May 2020.

The 2 best 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 also win an iPad. Any or all of the submitted material submitted to the competition may be used by SGSSS to illustrate good practice on its website or in other publicity/reporting material. 

How to apply

Applications for the 2020 competition will open in March.

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.