University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Article number0034523720920677
JournalResearch in Education
Early online date26 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2020


The complexity of contemporary higher education policy making and the multitude of evidences and actors in policy networks mean that relationships between higher education researchers, policy makers and research evidence are not straightforward. In this article, we use a theoretical lens of time, Adams’ Timescapes, to explore this relationship and better understand why the research and policy worlds are frequently described as divided. Drawing on in-depth interviews with higher education researchers, policy makers and research funders, we show how research and policy have different interpretations of time. We discuss the Timeframes, or lengths, of work and career, the Temporality, or complexity, of ‘evidence’, of networks and relationships, and the importance of elements such as Timing, or synchronisation, and Tempo, or pace. We conclude that policy makers and higher education researchers may be better able to make sense of the problematic nature of aligning their concerns, interests and actions through understanding different Timescapes.


© The Author(s) 2020. The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Smith, K., Fernie, S., & Pilcher, N. (2020). Aligning the times: Exploring the convergence of researchers, policy makers and research evidence in higher education policy making. Research in Education. by Sage Publications Ltd. All rights reserved. It is available at:

ID: 18881439