The conference “Knowledge Transfer in Social Science and the Humanities” brought up many topics related to research transfer and valorisation. These are the points highlighted by Anna Matamala, director of the Network.

On 9 May 2024, the conference Knowledge Transfer in Social Science and the Humanities was held at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The conference was organised by the AccessCat Network with the support of the vice-rector for Transfer, Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the UAB and AGAUR, through the Grants for R&D&I Networks (2021XARDI00007), and the collaboration of the UAB Parc de Recerca and the Directorate General of Knowledge Transfer of the Government of Catalonia. Over 200 people attended, mainly researchers and technicians from Catalan universities.

After the institutional welcome speech, which was given by Laia Arnal, director general of Transfer and Society of Knowledge of the Government of Catalonia, and Javier Lafuente, rector of the UAB, Julia Olmos (UV) presented the conference “Valorització social de la recerca en Ciències Socials i Humanitats. Aprenent del sexenni de transferència” (“Social Valorisation of Research in Social Sciences and Humanities. Learning from Six Years of Transfer”).

The conference continued with two round tables. The first one, moderated by Lídia Aguilera (CaixaResearch Institute), was titled “De què parlem quan parlem de transferència de coneixement en Ciències Socials i Humanitats?” (“What Do We Mean When We Talk About Knowledge Transfer in Social Science and Humanities?”). Jordi Balló (UPF), Jordi Collet (UVic-UCC), Anna Matamala (UAB), and Laura Sáez (CoRegistros, UB, IQS) were the speakers.

The second round table, "Com avaluem la transferència de coneixement en Ciències Socials i Humanitats? Indicadors i impacte social” (“How Do We Evaluate Knowledge Transfer in Social Science and Humanities? Indicators and Social Impact”), was moderated by Manel González-Piñero (CREB UPC, UB, ESMUC). Marcos Paz (UOC, RedOTRI), Nadal Bayà (AGAUR), María José Herrero (UC3M), and Teresa Sordé (UAB) participated in this discussion. Anna Matamala, director of the AccessCat Network, and Rosa María Sebastián Pérez, vice-rector for Innovation, Transfer and Entrepreneurship at the UAB, concluded the conference.

Conclusions on the conference

We’ve created these conclusions using 15 items that the director of the AccessCat Network gathered during the closing speech, and we accompany them with three visual diagrams.

1. Broad vision

The expression that was repeated the most throughout the conference was “broad vision”, in the sense that transfer is not only a model generally associated with science and technologies (spin-offs, startups, licences, etc.). Instead, more transfer models exist. Focusing transfer on commercialisation is a restrictive view that can cause divergences.

2. Iceberg

Transfer in Social Science and Humanities may be hidden, like the bottom part of an iceberg. We share transfer methods with other fields, but we also have our own transfer methods.

3. Transformation

Transforming society is inherent to Social Science and Humanities. It is like “the air we breathe” and, therefore, it is often invisible to other people and sometimes even to us.

4. Co-construction

The paradigm of Social Science and Humanities is based on the co-construction or co-creation of knowledge. We do not need to expand the paradigm of sciences and technologies. We have our own paradigm.

5. Bi/multidirectionality

We cannot view the transfer process as functioning in a single direction (from universities to society). It must be bidirectional or even multidirectional. We need trust and collaboration.

6. Territory

The territory, the governments, the people, and the associations are all essential in Social Science and Humanities. Collaborations go beyond economic agents.

7. Identification

We must identify, document, and make visible the many types of transfer. We must support them and encourage them, while also increasing awareness in Social Science and Humanities.

8. Language

The terminology used in the field could be revised. Rather than the term “transfer”, we could speak of “value” or “impact”.

9. Value contribution

Knowledge provides value (not just economically). Accumulated knowledge, which is not necessarily innovative, may be sufficient in the field of Social Science and Humanities. 

10. Multi/interdisciplinarity 

We do not perform research nor transfer knowledge in a void. Instead, multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity are inherent to Social Science and Humanities.

11. Indicators (systematisation)

Indicators must be gradually defined and systematised, with an initial broad view based on joint work. Before measuring, we must understand what we want to measure.

12. Social impact

We must look beyond the economic impact and also bear in mind the social impact.

13. Qualitative/quantitative

Quantitative metrics are not sufficient in Social Science and Humanities. Qualitative metrics that aid in justification processes must be defined. Credibility and data collection are two central pillars of the evaluation process.

14. Pathways

There are many pathways to transfer knowledge and demonstrate impact. Research and knowledge transfer should not be separate. They are indivisible.

Thank you is the fifteenth point. In these written conclusions, we turn this final point into an open question for everyone, which Vice-Rector Rosa María Sebastián put on the table during the institutional closing speech:

15. How can we turn the conference’s debates into action?


Additional materials for more information on the conference:

  1. Full recording of the event.
  2. Visual diagrams summarising the key ideas in the lectures and round tables.
  3. Slides from Julia Olmos Peñuela’s presentation (linked in the news article).
  4. Report on the conference.
Anna Matamala, AccessCat director’s.



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