Panels details > Panel 61

P61- Translation, academia and the voice of the public

PANEL Organizers :

Matthews Peter (, University of Stirling (United Kingdom)

• Connelly Steve (, University of Sheffield (United Kingdom)

• Durose Catherine (, University of Birmingham (United Kingdom)

• Richardson Liz (, University of Manchester (United Kingdom)

• Vanderhoven Dave (, University of Sheffield (United Kingdom)


This panel will not be a standard paper presentation format. We want to use the session to ask ourselves hard questions about our practice as academics, and  be open to hard questions from the audience/participants.  So the format will be:

a) four of us will briefly (5 minutes maximum) introduce their research project and context – all of which are very different instances’ of ‘translation’ involving different goals and public

b) in turn each will ask the others a single question drawing on a problematic or challenging aspect of their own experience.  For each ‘round’ the audience will also be invited to ask further questions or to comment.

The overall aim is to use the questioning format to surface and examine difficult issues – about ethics, politics, academic practice – using the experience and expertise of all those present. 

 Globally academics and universities are increasingly pressured to demonstrate the “impact” of their research. This has manifested itself in trends such as research that seeks to impact on policy and coproduced research with communities. These trends converge when research engages with the politics of communities, and in particular of community-state relationships. Specifically, IPA scholars often find themselves at the nexus of academic research, policy-makers and communities, usually as actors researching this nexus. While much of this research is normatively committed and reflexive, and often even action research, this panel proposes to shift the focus of research to the role of the academic as a translator in this nexus. This role is often more than just that of "researcher" - academics become cast in the role of mediator between communities and the state, often representing the former and their knowledge to the world of policy making. We seek to engage critically with these issues by interrogating this role of academics as mediators and translators of knowledge. The panel therefore invites papers that consider questions such as: How useful is academic knowledge to non-academic communities, including policy-makers and their “targets” in the population? Does the need to translate academic knowledge for other audiences conflict with academic criteria of quality? Are some knowledges, or forms of knowledge, easier to translate into some contexts and why is this the case? What are the ethics and politics of the role of academics in translating the voice of the public(s) into wider debates, including policy and academic debates? What other translators are involved in bringing evidence based on academic research into policy processes and what is their role? In this we recognise the breadth of meanings of the concept of “translation” from policy studies and translation studies (see, inter alia, Reiss, 1977/1989; Schaffner 1997,1998; Freeman 2009).


Translation, policy, making, impact, coproduction, communities.


Sciences Po Lille  B2.8

SESSION 1 : 10/07/2015 : 11:00-12:30

Chair : Peter Matthews ( University of Stirling (UK)

The engaged scholar, the useful scholar ?

Peter Matthews ( University of Stirling (UK)

Positionality of the researcher in translating between communities and policy makers

Janice Astbury ( University of Durham (UK)

Speaking others’ truths to power: representing community voices to central government policy makers

Steve Connelly (, Dave Vanderhoven ( University of Sheffield (UK)

Taking the University into the Community: power, patience and paranoia in translating knowledge into action

Jason Slade (, Lee Crookes ( , Andy Inch (, University of Sheffield (UK)

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