Knowledge Exchange is an umbrella term for the various forms of exchanging information that exist. This can apply to formal knowledge or informal knowledge. The goal of knowledge exchange is to foster an innovative environment, build capacity and support decision-making processes.
Sectors or cultures – organisational or other – in which the open sharing of information is valued, can be considered as resilient and innovative because a shared knowledge base can be built upon. As such, many governments, universities and businesses perceive it to be in their interest to actively promote and support this outcome.
Yet, there are many barriers to knowledge exchange. These may consist of practical issues, such as a lack of connection. They may also relate to appropriate forms in which knowledge is presented. Different knowledge users access knowledge in different ways.
Societies and organisations with an open culture with respect to knowledge sharing are better able to innovate in this field; operate competitively and contribute to technological and social progress. When it comes to medicine, agriculture or other areas related to human health it can be argued that open access to knowledge is a public good that – on an ethical basis – should not be neglected.
What WAS the project?
The Food & Farming Futures initiative built an open access website that shared new knowledge in sustainability and crop science. The National Library of Agri-food was built with funding from the Waitrose Foundation. The information related to farm management, best agricultural practices and new scientific discoveries. The information included both formal (peer-reviewed scientific papers) and informal sources of information (briefings; conference proceedings; blog posts; newsletters). We then created dissemination channels via newsletters and social media.
What did we learn?
As a team, we learnt that we put too much trust in the idea that universities would ‘naturally’ have an interest in sharing information. We also discovered that one of the most valuable aspects of our work, the ‘translation’ of science – that is, making scientific texts understandable in plain English – was one of the most appreciated but also most laborious and therefore costly aspects of our work. We believe the overall value far exceeds the costs though.
This project was supported by the Waitrose Foundation.