The Knight Research Network in its Third Year
Through an initial investment of $50 million from Knight Foundation, the Knight Research Network (KRN) began in 2019, centered on the goals of accelerating research at the intersection of media, technology and democracy; building a strong and diverse community of experts in this area; and connecting deep research to U.S. policy spheres. As of April 2023, Knight’s investment in KRN has grown to $80 million. This report, the third in a series, provides an overview of the Knight Research Network’s activity primarily over the period August 2021 to August 2022. This assessment finds:
Outputs and Capacity
- In the third year of activity alone, KRN researchers published more than 900 articles across more than 300 unique publishers, including the popular press, academic press, and self-publication such as blogs, reports and preprints.
- Researchers were mentioned or were involved in more than 1,400 written, audio or video media pieces across 690 unique media outlets or affiliates.
- Three teams—University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Washington; and George Washington University—have each been awarded $5 million research grants from the National Science Foundation to build out new projects. The grants are multi-institutional but are led by KRN faculty.
- In 2022, there were 423 authors of research products, which represents a 24% increase year-over-year.
- In 2021, KRN had grown to roughly 620 persons (faculty, staff, students and affiliates) involved; by 2022, KRN had grown to roughly 860 persons involved.
- Network analysis continues to show increasing collaboration and co-authorship of research. The number of authors collaborating with others in KRN increased by 26%, and the number of connection ties among all authors increased by 35% year-over-year.
- The fields of study pursued by KRN researchers remain diverse, but analysis of all of the network’s publications shows that computer science, communication studies and law are the leading fields of expertise.
- KRN researchers participated in or hosted more than 900 speaking engagements at in-person or online venues such as podcasts, webinars, conferences and in testimony to congressional committees or communication with congressional staff.
- KRN researchers testified before Congress 15 times and gave expert advice in many other public forums, including the European Parliament.
- Knight Foundation funded two in-person convenings, one with KRN leaders in Washington, DC, and one in Miami with a large number of KRN members as well as policymakers.
- Knight Foundation has been working to create supplemental infrastructure to help with both policy translation and data access—two of the key areas that KRN members have consistently identified as challenging.
- New pilot grants in the area of combatting misinformation in communities of color showed promise, but more follow-up is needed to help map next steps. KRN is beginning to develop substantial expertise in areas such as racialized disinformation and disparate impacts of online harms accruing to disadvantaged groups.
- Some universities are having problems institutionalizing tenure-track/tenured positions because researchers in this field are often “hybrid” and do not fit into orthodox departments.
This report unpacks these findings and provides recommendations toward KRN’s work in the coming year.