Evaluating knowledge exchange in interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder research

Ioan Fazey*, Lukas Bunse, Joshua Msika, Maria Pinke, Katherine Preedy, Anna C. Evely, Emily Lambert, Emily Hastings, Sue Morris, Mark S. Reed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Citations (Scopus)


Interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder research is increasingly being promoted and implemented to enhance understanding of global environment change, identify holistic policy solutions, and assist implementation. These research activities are social processes aiming to enhance the exchange and translation of knowledge. Emphasis on the design and management of knowledge exchange is increasing, but learning about how to do this better is hampered by lack of conceptual development and appropriate methods to evaluate complex and multifaceted knowledge exchange processes. This paper therefore develops principles for the evaluation of knowledge exchange in interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder environmental change research. The paper is based on an analysis of 135 peer-reviewed evaluations of knowledge exchange from diverse disciplines. The results indicate strong relationships between the field of study (e.g. health care, environmental management), the way knowledge and knowledge exchange were conceptualised and implemented, the approach used for the evaluation, and the outcomes being evaluated. A typology of seven knowledge exchange evaluations is presented to guide discussions about the underlying assumptions of different approaches to knowledge exchange and its evaluation. Five principles for knowledge exchange evaluation are also identified: (i) design for multiple end users; (ii) be explicit about why a particular approach to knowledge exchange is expected to deliver its outcomes; (iii) evaluate diverse outcomes; (iv) use evaluations as part of the process of delivering knowledge exchange; and (v) use mixed methods to evaluate knowledge exchange. We conclude that a catch-all approach to evaluation is neither appropriate nor desirable. Instead, approaches that focus on understanding the underlying processes of knowledge exchange, assess the relative contribution of other factors in shaping outcomes in addition to knowledge exchange, and that involve multiple stakeholders in implementing evaluations, will be the most appropriate for evaluating knowledge exchange in interdisciplinary global environmental change research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-220
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPrint publication - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Co-design
  • Co-management
  • Co-production
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Participatory research


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating knowledge exchange in interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this