Oct 21, 2018

How can your research have an impact, if you don't care about knowledge-transfer?

Research can be relevant but ineffective

One important difference between basic research and applied research is the time it takes for the generated knowledge to become effective in society. This effectiveness is generally measured in economic terms but is certainly much wider in scope. While it is obvious that application-driven research shows an effect in society much faster than fundamental research, the consequences of fundamental studies can be vastly bigger. The effects of application-oriented or application driven research tend to be rather incremental, while basic research has the potential to be truly disruptive.
But then -

The potential has to be 'activated' by knowledge transfer

No matter on which end of the scientific scale your research is located - and definitely independent of your personal preferences - the potential societal impact of research can be extremely high but a real impact being totally absent. Obviously, the knowledge gained has to be actively transferred into society. And this is another big difference between basic and applied research: application oriented science has the process for knowledge-transfer embedded in its strategy. Knowledge-transfer (here often referred to as technology-transfer) is already part of its fabric while for fundamental research it is generally not.
But only with adequate knowledge-transfer activities does knowledge have a chance to reach its target-audience. 
This transfer comprises of the audience-specific translation of research-based knowledge, which makes it usable. And only with adequate motivation and enabling of the potential recipient to understand the offer does the scientific knowledge that was so admirably transferred get absorbed and can be 'used'.

There simply is no impact of 'relevant' research without these complex transfer-activities.