Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Monthly Archives: December 2013

Knowledge Mobilization Post With The Most 2013

Below you will find a repost of KMbeing’s most viewed post for the year 2013. My  KMbeing blog about Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) takes an educational approach to knowledge sharing in order to create social benefit through KMb and knowledge exchange to make the world a better place.  I am very humbled and grateful to my many KMbeing blog followers who find value and inspiration in my posts – while also sharing knowledge for social benefit.

KMb is about sharing our knowledge and putting it into active service to help make the world a better place. This year’s post with the most for 2013 is a more recent post that gained extensive exposure by being re-tweeted, commented on and made a favorite on Twitter by more than 100 people.  The blog post answers the question Why Should Researchers Blog & Tweet? I applaud all who made the wider dissemination of this blog post possible using Twitter and recognizing the importance of getting researchers to use social media as part of the research process.

Thanks again to all my followers who have made this year and the KMbeing blog so successful! I look forward to continuing to mobilize knowledge with you all in 2014!

Knowledge Mobilization Post With The Most 2013: 

Why Should Researchers Blog & Tweet?


Knowledge Mobilization “Borders without Boundaries” Includes the Third Sector

Borders without Boundaries

no borders

Long before technology transfer, knowledge management, diffusion of innovations, knowledge translation, knowledge transfer, engaged scholarship, knowledge transfer & exchange, knowledge mobilization or K* (K-Star) there were academics in the early 20th century in Canada interested in cross-disciplinary connections.

The upcoming annual meeting of Congress 2014 of the Humanities and Social Sciences marks its 80th year as an important gathering of interdisciplinary scholars.  Congress 2014 takes place May 24th-30th and is titled Borders without Boundaries. The event is sponsored by the Canadian Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences bringing together academics, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners.

The theme Borders without Boundaries is exactly what knowledge mobilization (KMb) is all about. The idea of researchers networking across borders has emerged within the 21st century as an essential element of the research process to provide greater outreach and input for social benefit to make research useful to society – particularly social science and humanities research. Research is no longer valued if it’s locked up in disciplinary silos or peer-reviewed journals. Research must now involve open-access cross-pollination with other sectors in academia and community that informs and is informed by policy-makers taking place across a variety of organizational, public, business and government spaces.

Community is not just community-based researchers or practitioners. Community is also about what is often called the third sector – the sphere of social activity undertaken by voluntary organizations and public citizens that are not-for-profit and non-governmental. By including the third sector in the interdisciplinary border crossings without boundaries is a more inclusive and extensive way of being a boundary-spanner.

One of the first times I ever heard the term “boundary-spanner” was back in 2009 when Angie Hart, Academic Director, Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP) at the University of Brighton was guest speaker at a KMb Expo hosted by York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit – out of which ResearchImpact/Réseau Impact Recherche emerged. Just as CUPP is breaking down boundaries between community and university in the UK – including the third sector, ResearchImpact is breaking down community university boundaries in Canada to include the third sector.

Being a boundary-spanner is what lead me to develop the Myers Model of Knowledge Mobilization.


The greatest advances often occur not exclusively in academia, or private-sector practitioners or business leaders or because of government policies. The greatest advances and social benefit often occur at the intersections and collaborations between borders and boundaries.

ResearchImpact has been attending Congress since 2006 and has played a leading role in advancing the understanding of borders without boundaries. ResearchImpact is a knowledge mobilization network of 10 Canadian universities involved in community-university engagement to inform public policy, involve non-profits in the research process and create valuable social change. ResearchImpact has crossed university borders without boundaries to include all sectors – even the non-profit and business sectors. At Congress in 2009, ResearchImpact’s David Phipps collaborated with Knowledge Mobilization Works founder and Director for the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization, Peter Levesque to present a KMb career corner that began to broaden the borders and boundaries of Congress.

Such inclusiveness is moving beyond the borders of research disciplines, moving beyond the borders of academia to community, and also moving beyond the borders of geographical Canadian provinces and national borders. ResearchImpact represents what the theme of Congress 2014 is all about.

The Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences has been an initial path-maker along the stretch of interdisciplinary territory for 80 years. Congress 2014 provides nearly 70 scholarly association meetings and attracts an average of 6,000 diverse attendees. The long-standing interdisciplinary basis of Congress now provides an excellent opportunity to continue even further to create borders without boundaries for academia, business, government – and include even further the third sector.

Why Should Researchers Blog & Tweet


Why should researchers use social media? – Particularly blogging and Twitter.

This was the question I answered as guest speaker at two presentations this past year: The Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum hosted by the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization; and a Co-Production workshop hosted by the Research Exchange for the Social Sciences Unit at the University of Sheffield. Both events brought together academic and community-based researchers, business and government leaders and non-profit organizations to discuss knowledge mobilization (KMb) efforts and how to make the most of new technologies and directions in research and knowledge exchange activities.

I will also be attending the first UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum (#UKMbF14/@UKKMbf) in February 2014 and will again be actively involved in the next Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum (#ckf14/@KMbW_Updates) in June 2014.

Register for the UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum 2014

Register for the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum 2014

My presentation was titled New Tools and Rules for Research: Knowledge Mobilization Initiatives Using Social Media.

One of the broader definitions I like to use to define knowledge mobilization (or knowledge mobilisation with an “s” if you happen to live in the U.K.) is putting available knowledge into active service to benefit society.

As co-author on publications that include a peer-reviewed paper on the use of clear language research summaries, a book chapter on applying social science research for public benefit using KMb and social media, blogging 768 posts at over five years with almost 35,000 views from over 140 countries, and being named one of Canada’s top-ten knowledge mobilization influencers in 2011 and 2012, I was honored to be asked to present and answer the question why should researchers use social media? – Particularly blogging and Twitter.

The world of the Ivory Tower is definitely changing from a former world of more cloistered research knowledge and disciplines to a world of more open and networked interdisciplinary research collaborations. Academia has become partnered more with community-based researchers at the local level – thanks in great part to knowledge mobilization beginning to be officially integrated into the structure of universities. Outstanding examples of this are the ten Canadian universities of ResearchImpact (@researchimpact), and in the U.K. the Community University Partnerships Program (CUPP/@cuppbrighton) at the University of Brighton, the Research Exchange Unit at the University of Sheffield (RESS/@IMPACTSheffield), as well as the Research Unit for Research Utilisation (RURU/@UniofEdinburgh) and Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR/@CRFRtweets) at the University of Edinburgh.

And while universities are networking more with the local community (such as the collaborative work being done between York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and United Way York Region/@unitedwayyork) universities and the local community are also networking more with the international community as seen by the continuing connections that have emerged among the organizations mentioned above – all with the use of social media – particularly because of initial connections made by blogging and Twitter.

Blogging and Twitter can be used for knowledge/research dissemination in your own local community and there’s also the possibility of broader interest and exchange as a worldwide knowledge networking tool. There are opportunities for knowledge sharing, learning and research collaboration – both academic and community-based – within the local community and the global community.

Two recent and important articles specifically about why academics blog can be found here and here – and one on why academics are afraid to tweet here as well as an article on the adoption of social media in the scientific community here

Twitter also provides you with real time search capabilities for any topic (research or otherwise) using a hashtag (#) at the beginning of any word search (such as #KMb). There are also regularly organized tweetchats such as the monthly #KmbChat hosted by @KmbChat that takes place every fourth Thursday bringing together a wide-variety of international knowledge mobilization stakeholders and interested tweeters. (To join the conversation follow @KMbChat on Twitter; then, point your browser here  to follow the hashtag #KMbChat).

And it’s absolutely free to participate, search and retrieve with no pay-wall.

With more prestigious and well-respected university, health, science and education Twitter accounts being found online (@UniofOxford @Harvard @Princeton @Univ_of_Tokyo @unimelb @LSERsrchOnline @royalsociety @CIHR_IRSC @SSHRC_CRSH @PLOS @GlobalHigherEd) finding quality research links through Twitter is becoming much easier. And as Twitter provides the ability to retweet Twitter posts on relevant knowledge and research subjects, it connects you with a broader community that now includes that larger variety of research communities.

So, although blogging and Twitter can be used to cast WIDE, the advantage of these social media tools is that they can also be used effectively to NARROW IN on common research topics or subject matter to create online communities of common interests – locally and globally.

Twitter has also been used at conferences to leverage research through live-tweeting sound-bites that can disseminate conference content and discuss conference research presentations with other conference audience members as well as share conference proceedings with remote participants.

Social media – especially Twitter – is pushing society from an information age to a broader, connected knowledge and research collaboration age. Academic and community-based researchers, health, education and social services organizations have begun to pay attention to the growth, relevance and use of social media for knowledge mobilization that include:

  • New and innovative research collaborations leading to possibilities of developing further research and broader and faster dissemination of findings
  • Potential links for research funding opportunities
  • Obtaining research samples
  • Leveraging your own and other researchers’ work
  • Interactions across and beyond your research discipline, institution or profession
  • Getting quick answers to your questions or answering those of others from around the world to compare and contrast different contexts for global knowledge development

Researcher Melissa Terra in the Department of Information Studies at University College London shows how blogging and tweeting to make all of her 26 articles about computational technologies available was worth it. All Terra’s articles were originally published in peer-reviewed journals.

Most of my papers, before I blogged and tweeted them, had one to two downloads, even if they had been in the repository for months (or years, in some cases). Upon blogging and tweeting, within 24 hours, there were on average seventy downloads of my papers.

Why should researchers use social media? – Particularly Twitter.

  1. To create online networks to better understand which issues are important to various stakeholders
  2. To get more immediate and valuable feedback on your research as a faster and in more ways more effective form of the long and drawn-out process of peer-review
  3. To meet other academics and researchers locally and globally who are interested in your work in real-time using a social media tool that can create on-going research relationships

The bottom line – Twitter can be a valuable part of your academic or community-based research dissemination/exchange strategies, ways to find research and create communities and opportunities to co-produce new research AND – ultimately and hopefully – make the world a better place through knowledge mobilization with the use of social media.

Removing Obstructions On The Knowledge Mobilization Path

blocking the path

At the beginning of the 21st century a shift occurred in Canadian thinking about the process of research and its use. There was an emerging understanding of the importance of more inclusive knowledge exchange by various stakeholders from university, community and government organizations to support the use of research in decision-making for social programming, public policy and professional practice. (For more in-depth reading on this shift in research thinking I continue to recommend an excellent longitudinal analysis paper written by Carole Estabrooks and colleagues that traces the historical development of the knowledge exchange field between 1945 and 2005 with an author co-citation analysis of over 5,000 scholarly articles).

By 2005 a new focus on evidence-informed research invited public contribution – not as passive subjects in the research process but as active contributors. Research was no longer trapped in siloes with the rather self-serving goal of professional recognition in peer-reviewed journals. Research was no longer being held captive in exclusive research disciplines or sectors – thanks more recently in large part to social media. Research slowly began to be more open and accessible, focusing on broader applications and impacts – turning research into action.

The term knowledge mobilization (KMb) evolved following the publication of an evaluation report of the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in 2004. This led SSHRC to create a division of Knowledge Products and Mobilization to enhance and accelerate the movement of research findings into policy and program development.

In February 2005, SSHRC hosted a multi-sectoral Knowledge Project – bringing 80 research teams together to discuss issues ranging from cities and the environment to aging and technology. This knowledge expo was attended by academics, the media and members of the public bringing SSHRC’s concept of strategic research sectors to policy-makers – winning the enthusiastic support of the Canadian government at that time. (What is interesting is that SSHRC does not have a website for the “Knowledge Project” even though it had an impressive response for the initiative).

Despite this shift over the past decade to more inclusive research thinking to connect researchers, research-users and policy-makers a growing disconnect occurred between researchers and the Canadian government. The current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power in 2006 – two years after SSHRC’s CURA evaluation and KMb momentum began. Since then many Canadian researchers and knowledge brokers have gained an international reputation for broadening the research path based on the development of KMb; however Canada’s government has also gained an international reputation for ignoring KMb recommendations and silencing researchers who seek to make their work public.

Here are examples of how the Canadian government has ignored research findings by placing a roadblock on the broadening KMb research path:

Canada prides itself as being a KMbeacon shining its evolved KMb light internationally as a successful example to other countries. However, as a recent article from Australia points out, government policy-makers are not entirely to blame – and this applies back to Canada as well.

Currently, members of parliament (and the general public) still have no easy access to certain research and no formal help in understanding scientific studies due to the continuing archaic format, accessibility pay-walls and technical jargon used.

Here are examples of how some researchers are still stuck in the past using the same archaic research techniques that continue to shut-out government policy-makers (and the general public) by limiting the KMb research path:

  • research is framed for academic journals rather than policy development
  • research is often not written in clear-language for easier understanding
  • incentives in academia favour restricted peer-review publication over interpretation or open-access publication
  • academics are rewarded for narrowness and depth over multi-disciplinarity and integration

(Also see this relevant blog about Knowledge Brokers Vs Knowledge Blockers).

Fortunatley, a private member’s bill was tabled on December 3, 2013 in the Canadian House of Commons recommending the creation of a parliamentary science officer. The new office would openly provide parliamentarians, researchers and the public with current evidence-informed research and the consequences of ignoring significant research findings. This is an important step to removing obstructions by both the current government and old-style researchers blocking the evolved KMb path.