Knowledge activism: bridging the research/policy divide

Donald Gillies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


How research can better inform policy and how policy can have a better research base are longstanding issues both in educational research and across public policy generally. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, this article argues that progress in increasing the impact of research can be made through a clearer understanding of the nature of politics. Arendt's identification of 'persuasion' as the defining activity of the political sphere is used to argue that the communication of research findings, relevant to education policy, must be similarly aligned if it is to be effective. The article views approaches such as knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange as inadequately constructed and instead promotes the concept of 'knowledge activism' as a means by which research evidence can be made operational in political terms. The article acknowledges the risk to academic integrity and objectivity of such overtly political behaviour but argues that remaining outside the political sphere simply guarantees minimal research impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-288
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number3
Early online date27 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2014


  • educational research
  • evidence
  • impact
  • policymaking
  • politics


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