Researching REACT

As we publish "Translation, Negotiation, Advocacy: the REACT challenge", our first working paper, REACT Knowledge Exchange Fellow Simon Moreton reflec

As we publish "Translation, Negotiation, Advocacy: the REACT challenge", our first working paper, REACT Knowledge Exchange Fellow Simon Moreton reflects on the process of conducting research into Knowledge Exchange.


A core element of how the REACT Hub operates is  learning by doing: we try things, get things right, get things wrong and then try things better. It's a responsive and flexible way of working, and one that requires constant attention and vigilance. Moreover, it involves working fast.

As an academic with a background working within universities, operating at this speed in REACT is an interesting proposition: the process of researching, writing, publishing – and even thinking – is done at a much slower rate in the Higher Education environment.

I don't mean that in a pejorative way. Knowledge production, creativity, ideas generation and honing outputs all happen at different rates. Indeed, the deep knowledge and research skills associated with academia are central components of our funded projects.

But as a researcher, being asked to work in this way poses some interesting questions. What does it mean for the knowledge we produce here? How does research change in the speeded-up space of REACT? What are the critical or ethical implications for carrying out work in this way?

These are the same questions that "Translation, Negotiation, Advocacy: the REACT challenge" asks of the REACT collaboration itself. What happens when five universities and a digital media centre work together? What kinds of challenges arise from spanning the sectors of academia and creative business? What can we learn about ourselves, and the people we work with?

This paper, the first in a series of REACT working papers, addresses some of those questions. It details many of the challenges we've faced in setting up the REACT Hub and asks some questions about what we can learn from them. These challenges are geographical and political, conceptual and practical. The paper also provides an excellent starting point to learn more about how we operate and shares the kinds of questions we want to ask of ourselves and the work we do.

In many ways we're already learning from the challenges the paper outlines, responding to what we've found out and moving forwards.

But in doing so more challenges and questions are arising, and so is the need for more critical self-reflection, documentation and analysis.

It's just a case, as a researcher, of keeping up.


Visit our Case Studies page to download the document. Simon is working with the team to produce the next working paper, as well as conducting research with Sandbox participants and exploring more fully what it means to be a researcher in a knowledge exchange environment.