The benefits of Knowledge Exchange

This Fellowship has allowed us to work collaboratively with a well-respected and established charity, to foster more meaningful relationships with their research, policy, and media teams which will undoubtedly reap future benefits in terms of the sharing of knowledge and expertise in both research and impact activities in the future.


Knowledge Exchange Fellowships (KEF) usually involve an academic locating with an organisation or company. This was the first time a Fellow was brought into and located in the University from a National Charity.

The purpose of the KEF was for the Fellow (Lizzie McCarthy from Women’s Aid) alongside Womens Aid staff and UoB staff to: 1) benefit directly from the Centre for Gender and Violence Research’s expertise in compiling and analysing sensitive qualitative data, thereby aiding capacity building for Women’s Aid’s research and policy unit; 2) carry out secondary analysis on an existing dataset (ESRC Justice project) held by CGVR to establish evidence to directly inform national policy debates and practice; and 3) based on Womens Aid’s experience as the national Domestic Violence Charity, for the Fellow to provide specialist seminars for the School on working with Government departments to impact policy.

The Fellowship ran from December 2019 to April 2021 (extended due to covid restrictions).

This exchange of knowledge was made possible by an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA), Knowledge Exchange Fellowship awarded to colleagues from the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, in collaboration with Women’s Aid In the autumn of 2019.

The IAA focused on exploring the ‘gendered experience of justice and domestic abuse – evidence for policy and practice’, and the final report will be published in a few days time, on 20 July. As such, this is a good opportunity to reflect on what has been a very successful Knowledge Exchange Fellowship process, to identify key elements of learning and offer insights to colleagues who may be interested in doing similar work.

With regard to the KEF project, this proved to be an exciting opportunity to conduct rigorous data analysis to address a key policy problem facing the domestic abuse sector. There were inevitable practical issues in terms of access by the KEF to data and file-stores exacerbated by covid restrictions which limited access to on-site computing equipment.  But by sharing knowledge and approaches, we were able to learn from one another and create a piece of work which is both academically rigorous and policy relevant.  Womens Aid’s extensive practitioner and policy networks have meant that the work has been presented at the national Women’s Aid conference as well as the All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Initial presentations of the work to practitioners, academics, and policy makers has been positive and generated much interest and ideas about changes required in policy and practice.  The publication of the report and a related media campaign next week, will ensure that the research’s potential to inform wider public opinion, and challenge the ways sexism and misogyny are used by perpetrators of abuse, are also maximised.

The final report will be launched on 20 July 2021.  This will involve joint press and social media releases of key findings from Womens Aid and UoB, alongside the publication of the report itself.  Developing a joint press strategy for the launch has involved sharing knowledge and expertise across Women’s Aid and the University of Bristol in terms of policy, media, and impact work.

Written by Dr Emma Williamson, Reader in Gender Based Violence with Marianne Hester, Head of the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, Sarah-Jane Walker, Senior Research Associate, and Lizzie McCarthy, Knowledge Exchange Fellow, Woman’s Aid.

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