November 29, 2023

Transferring Knowledge: Exploring the Transferability of Research Impact

Welcome back to our series on research impact! In our previous blog posts, we discussed the significance, reach, tangibility, novelty, durability, and collaboration as essential characteristics of research impact. Today, we delve into another crucial characteristic: “Transferability

Sean Newell

7: Transferability

Transferability refers to the ability of research findings, methodologies, or interventions to be applied or adapted in different contexts, settings, or populations. Join us as we explore the importance of transferability in research impact and how it enables the widespread application and adoption of research outcomes.

Definition and Explanation

Transferability, as a characteristic of research impact, focuses on the generalizability and applicability of research findings beyond the specific study context. It involves designing and disseminating research in a way that allows others to understand, interpret, and utilize the knowledge generated. Transferability ensures that research outcomes can inform policies, practices, and interventions in diverse settings, populations, or situations. 

Examples that highlight the importance of transferability in research impact: 

1. Health Transferability: Research on healthcare interventions, such as preventive measures or treatment protocols, can have transferable impact. For example, a study evaluating the effectiveness of a vaccination campaign against a specific disease can inform similar campaigns in different regions or countries, allowing for the transfer of successful strategies and best practices. 

2. Educational Transferability: Research on effective teaching methods or learning interventions can be transferable across different educational contexts. For instance, a study that identifies effective strategies for improving student engagement or enhancing critical thinking skills can be adapted and applied in various educational settings, benefiting students from diverse backgrounds.

3. Policy Transferability: Research that generates evidence-based policy recommendations can have transferable impact on governance and decision-making processes. For example, a study on the impact of minimum wage policies on employment can inform policy discussions and decisions in different regions or countries facing similar labor market challenges. 

4. Technological Transferability: Research on technological advancements, such as renewable energy solutions or innovative materials, can have transferable impact across industries and sectors. For instance, research on solar energy technologies can be transferred and applied in various geographical locations, contributing to the global transition towards sustainable energy sources.

Challenges and Considerations

Ensuring the transferability of research impact comes with challenges: 

  • Accounting for contextual differences and considering the nuances of different settings, populations, or cultures when transferring research findings or interventions. 
  • Engaging relevant stakeholders and end-users in the research process to ensure the appropriateness and feasibility of transferability. 
  • Balancing the need for generalizability with the recognition of specific contextual factors that may influence the transferability and effectiveness of research outcomes. 

Enhancing Transferability

To enhance the transferability of research impact, researchers and funders can consider the following strategies: 

  • Communicate research findings in a clear and accessible manner, using language and formats that are easily understandable and applicable to various audiences. 
  • Engage stakeholders from different contexts or settings in the research process to ensure diverse perspectives and promote contextual relevance. 
  • Conduct pilot studies or implementation trials in multiple settings to test the transferability and adaptability of research findings or interventions. 


Transferability is a critical characteristic that enables research impact to extend beyond specific study contexts and populations. By designing research with transferability in mind and promoting the dissemination and application of research outcomes, we can maximize the reach and effectiveness of research impact.

Join us in our next blog post, where we will look the importance of “Engagement.” 

Other blog posts in this series

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