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

Tag Archives: David Phipps

What’s The Difference Between Knowledge Mobilization/Translation & Strategic Communications?

overlap

My knowledge mobilization colleagues Melanie Barwick, David Phipps, Michael Johnny, Rossana Corandioli and I have just published an article looking at the differences and similarities between Knowledge Mobilization/Translation and Strategic Communications. There is considerable overlap in the roles and activities of these two professional fields causing some tension between professionals working in these areas. We found the boundaries between the two professions created some ambiguity – so we started a dialogue around defining these roles and exploring synergies for greater clarity which lead to some interesting findings in our paper.

Please link to the article here and hope you enjoy!

Asking The Question Again: Where Do You Think The Knowledge Mobilization Field Will Be In 5 Years?

KMb Crystal Ball

In March this year, shortly after the inaugural UK KMb Forum held in London in February, I wrote a blog post Where Do You Think The Knowledge Mobilization Field Will Be In 5 Years? Taking its cue from this post and this question posed by David Phipps to attendees at the UK Forum, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAFRA) and the University of Guelph asked this same question at their KTT (knowledge translation & transfer) event on April 15th.
 
According to Elin Gwyn, Research Analyst of the Research & Innovation Branch of OMAFRA, “we thought it would be a fun way to connect/link it to the question that was asked at the UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum”. OMAFRA has now written a blog post with their responses received.  The following is that blog post with many thanks to Elin Gwyn for providing it.

Where will KTT be in 5 years?

by Elin Gwyn and Sara Fisher, July2th, 2014

On April 15th, 2014 we held the fourth annual knowledge exchange (or KTT) day, this year called the “Knowledge Share Fair”. Taking cues and expanding upon a concept at the UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum held in London, England in February this year (https://kmbeing.com/2014/03/08/where-do-you-think-the-knowledge-mobilisation-field-will-be-in-5-years/) we started and ended our day by asking the participants “where do you think knowledge translation and transfer (KTT), aka knowledge mobilization, will be in 5 years?”

We thought it would be a neat idea to see how the answers were similar and differ across the pond. And to see what people in the KTT arena in Ontario see knowledge mobilization heading. We were really impressed by the scope, volume and diversity of the responses we received. Below are categorized lists of the answers that we received throughout the day. We welcome our readers to add their thoughts to this list and any new ideas they may have. How neat will it be to go back to this “capsule” in 5 years and see how accurate (or inaccurate) we are.

Here’s to 5 wonderful years ahead!

Where do you think the knowledge mobilization field will be in 5 years?

Approaches/techniques:

  • There will be much more personalization of “knowledge” available. People will be able to more easily access the info/knowledge they need, due to technology advances (which will aid in creation of personalized info, too.)
  • More sharing of best practices and less nitpicking re: terminology
  • Student presentations and academic research projects on KTT process, methods, capacity development approaches
  • Standards/Best practices
  • Plain language requirements in grant proposals
  • Research pull
  • Knowledge mobilization will only to expand and become incorporated – especially within education. This will hopefully prepare future generations as it is an important and relevant contribution to every industry.
  • Working collaboratively across disciplines/multiple fields to share co-created knowledge through innovative means and formats
  • More pull – more demand – will drive new methods
  • Still struggling with measuring impact of KTT
  • Help researchers find industrial partners
  • Consistent evaluation of all projects with early engagement of stakeholders to assist in defining and restating research goals
  • Precision in identification of research priorities by stakeholders
  • More user-focused research
  • Evaluations of various KTT approaches across various contexts to inform effective practice
  • An integrated process in all organizations, no matter what the discipline
  • An integrated process in all organizations, no matter what the discipline
  • KMb as part of accountability requirements for programs/institutions
  • Extensive engagement of various sectors in KMb
  • Public awareness of KMb and participation in KMb
  • KMb/KTT will be part of research projects throughout the process
  • Crowd sourcing research (with sharing of results, especially with crowds of funders)
  • Apart from blogs, having magazines, news articles/newspapers
  • Info getting out globally
  • Help in finding industrial partners: Research + Industry → KTT
  • Undergraduate/graduate mandatory hands-on classes on KTT
  • Granting/funding agencies that will monitor the impact of KTT from the research teams they funded
  • Integration between disciplines
  • It will be more interactive

People:

  • More people working in KTT
  • KTT brings people together
  • Student involvement in real world examples
  • Interdisciplinary conferences
  • Globalized
  • Farmer – first approaches on KTT from a new generation of farmers
  • More integration with community professional recognition
  • Employment – new faculty positions to represent more departments on campus – teaching, research, use
  • Growth in number of positions/roles specifically dedicated to KMb and to building capacity in KMb
  • It will have new audiences – urban farmers; new entrants to agricultural production; immigrant agricultural producers
  • Interdisciplinary sector conferences
  • We will have more degrees/certificates in KTT/KMb
  • Events that connect the research/academia with end users
  • More conferences

Technology:

  • Real-time technology
  • Greater use of social media to share knowledge/information in a faster, more widespread way
  • Social medial directed
  • Small e-communities and networks that share data with each other as knowledge brokers – that are connected to each other – e-community user groups
  • Electronic interactions between researchers and users
  • With more data on websites
  • Blogs and magazine articles – tweeting
  • User friendly apps
  • It will have new hardware and new software apps to utilize
  • Classified professional knowledge sharing website
  • End-user questions and challenges submitting blogs
  • Interactive user communication and evaluation links (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, radios)
  • Social media will continue to revolutionise communications and have an impact on KMb
  • Big data opportunities – i.e., Boston app to track potholes – Google trends to ID flu outbreaks
  • More immediate knowledge between farmers and stakeholders through apps
  • More mobile apps, more social networking sites involvement, workshops

Data Management:

  • Data mapping “window of opportunity”
  • Integrated/connected data
  • Intellectual property right – redefinition
  • Data management plans within research proposals
  • A clear map of the risks vs gains of open (data/development/gov’t.) in contrast with privatized/copyrighted data /info – especially as it affects public interest in food and agriculture
  • We are evolving to an information-based and -driven society. Society will then expect to have access to all sorts of data. The role of the KTT contact will be to respond to the needs of the individual in a user-defined yet collective manner
  • Continuing to work on open data as an issue
  • Publication of research results and data, and afterward evaluation by the public
  • Data acquisition process involves the use of robotics to capture data.

General:

  • Still some growing pains in terms of terminology, organization of approaches, etc., but best practices starting to solidify by this time and gain wider acceptance
  • More people who self-identify as doing this work, more numbers of this community of practice, more research on best practices completed
  • More awareness of the concept of KTT/KM in relevant communities
  • Improve society by increasing learning
  • Everywhere!
  • Virtual
  • Content oriented
  • In future, knowledge created in research will be translated and transformed to the public and end users quite fast rather than staying in published literature. Also, the research evaluation will be more emphasized and find a good place when defining new projects. Or perhaps a project successful completion will be assessed based on project evaluation and impact on end user rather than just scientific evaluations.
  • Terminology will matter less
  • KM/KTT, in 5 years, will not be a “discipline”. It will be a normal part of any good research program. It could be a project of subset too,
  • Trust and relationship building between researchers and users will continue to be a need
  • More funding!
  • KTT = more work for researchers with limited tools and know-how
  • KTT must be a 2-way bridge between researchers and users

How Do We Define Effective Impact Of Research Knowledge?

Impact

Impact can be defined as: a powerful or major influence or effect; a force or impression of one thing on another – or an economic, social or cultural change or benefit to the quality of life within society.

If we apply this to the potential impact of research – impact can be defined as a measurable change in policy, services or products. However, researchers don’t make policy, they usually don’t offer services, and they generally don’t produce products. It is government (public sector) who makes policy, community organizations (voluntary sector) who mostly deliver services, and industry (private sector) who create products. Researchers develop knowledge which can lead to impact, but remember that some research knowledge has no impact at all.

Impact is not measured by the production of knowledge alone. Impact is measured by the application of knowledge. Impact is measured not at the level of research knowledge-producer but at the level of the end-user.

An excellent framework demonstrating impact comes from the knowledge mobilization unit at York University. This framework, called The Co-Produced Pathway to Impact was developed by David Phipps, Executive Director, Research and Innovation Services at York University in collaboration with PREVNet (a Network of Centres of Excellence promoting research and KMb to prevent bullying).

To understand how impact is measured at the level of the end-user, it’s important to understand the beginning process of KMb that leads to social innovation.

How and What KMb

Knowledge mobilization (KMb) helps make research useful to society with the HOW of creating a shared space of collaboration between community and campus…that leads to the WHAT of social innovation.

Co-production to Impact

The shared space of collaboration creates the Co-Production of research knowledge leading to the Activity of knowledge Dissemination. The Output of KMb is the Uptake of this knowledge by the public, voluntary and private sectors to assess its value, leading to the Outcome of Implementation of the research knowledge. The measureable change in policy, services or products is the Impact. However, it is the on-going Co-Production through the process that leads to Impact.

The measure of effective impact is both social and economic, such as an increase in constructive public policy and services creating wider benefit for a full range of people, as well as the measure of competitive municipal, regional and national economic performance on a global scale.

From a healthcare perspective to enhance the quality of life, Alain Beaudet, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) makes it easy to understand the process of KMb to Impact in his message in CIHR’s recent five-year strategic plan:

“Ultimately, health research is about helping people to be healthier. But while there is one definitive destination (Impact), there are many paths to get there. It may be through the development of new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, or promote population health. It may be through providing the evidence that supports the delivery of the health services Canadians need, when and where they need them. And it may be through the commercialization of a health research discovery to make a new product or service available in the marketplace.”

The social and economic impacts on health include the improvement of outcomes for patients, enhanced disease prevention, a change in healthcare practice that leads to greater public awareness of health risks and benefits, and constructive behavioural changes in such things as diet, exercise, habits and routines. This also includes having the costs of treatment or healthcare become more accessible and affordable as a result of changes in policy and practice.

Other social and economic impacts occur when there has been an influence on the development of policy (including a better understanding of policy) by providing services or products that shape legislation and change behaviour – including the development of personal and practical skills, as well as the on-going training of highly skilled people.

The challenge of creating effective impact is that impact is not something that happens quickly. Just as change takes time to achieve – so too, effective impact takes time.

As CIHR President, Alan Beaudet states, “there are many paths to get there” so effective impacts may occur more readily in some sectors or disciplines and not so much in others.

Impact may also change over time, so there is also a need for monitoring and re-evaluation.

There are also different contexts and diverse perspectives on what can be considered effective impact.

The bottom line of how to define effective impact of research knowledge is obviously the end result. Has there been an economic, social or cultural change or benefit to the quality of life within society? And has this change been scalable and sustainable to achieve wider benefit?

Ultimately, we need to be open to the possibility that impact is limited to different contexts (thank you PARIHS model) and can change based on new, emerging research knowledge, socio-economic shifts – and varying human behaviour – that creates a continuous cycle of co-produced pathways to impact every day.

Thanks for Putting Research to Work at The 2014 Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum

CKF 14

Another successful Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum took place on June 9th and 10th in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The theme of the 2014 Forum was Putting Research to Work: Social & Economic Innovations – and lived up to its name as an effective gathering of knowledge workers and learners who exchanged valuable ideas and visions of ways to put our knowledge into practice for social & economic benefit.

I was busy creating a draft of the final report – you can link to it here. (I also drafted last yea’rs report and you can view the 2013 report here).

Tremendous thanks again goes to Peter Levesque, CEO of Knowledge Mobilization Works and President of the non-profit Institute for Knowledge Mobilization – which is now the host organization and organizer of the Forum. Each year Peter’s drive and energy to bring together a wide-range of attendees from across Canada and around the world pays off. Thanks also to David Phipps, Executive Director of Research and Innovation Services at York University who worked with Peter to enlist the support of an extensive group of sponsors without whose generous support the forum could not take place.

David Phipps along with Amanda Clarke, Cathy Howe, Fleur McQueen Smith, Christine Provvidenza, Ashley Townley, Rick Riopelle and Bonnie Zink also deserve recognition for being on the planning committee to shape and guide the event.

A very special thanks goes to Colleen Christensen, Industrial Technology Advisor from the National Research Council who stepped up to the challenge of being this year’s Forum Chair. Colleen’s experience as a knowledge broker embedded in the practice of technology and innovation was an ideal person for this position. Colleen’s insight, comments and direction throughout the event helped keep the Forum running smoothly.

Many thanks to our Inspirational Speaker, Donald Nicholls, Director of the Department of Justice and Correctional Services with the Cree Regional Authority who spoke about using Knowledge to Create a Better Future for Cree Youth; our Experiential Speaker, Shauna Kingsnorth, Evidence to Care Lead & Clinical Study Investigator at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital who shared the success of the Evidence to Care program developed to mobilize childhood disability research into practice; our Leadership Speaker, Robert Haché, Vice-President of Research & Innovation at York University who presented a great example of building a culture of knowledge mobilization; and our Action Speaker, Michelle Gagnon, Vice-President of Norlien Foundation and Senior Program Manager of Alberta Family Wellness Initiative who shared a valuable example of how their innovation has helped build the foundation for healthier children, families and communities.

Special thanks also to Cathy Howe who travelled from London, U.K., and was this year’s Chair of the first UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum (helping the Canadian Forum branch out and build a growing international KMb community). Thanks to Cathy and the generous efforts of Sue Cragg who both helped facilitate and create genuine connections at our KMb Innovation and Value Creation World Cafés. (A complete bio of our speakers and facilitators can be found by following this link).

Most importantly, a huge thanks to all of the people who attended this year’s event. Each year the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum builds on the momentum of previous years and we look forward to seeing you at next year’s Forum in Montreal!

Knowledge Mobilization, Storytelling & Tim Hortons Donuts

Gary since 1964

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Tim Hortons Donuts and also my 50th birthday!  In thinking about this I remembered an earlier KMbeing blog post about storytelling as part of knowledge mobilization – and donuts!

In honour of both our 50 years I thought I’d repost with an update. 

 

Sharing knowledge by telling a story can make a presentation, blog or conversation more interesting. Why?

When I was five years old, I was hit by a car. I fractured my collar-bone and was unconscious for nearly 48 hours. Doctors feared that I would suffer brain damage due to the impact of hitting my head against the pavement after being thrown forward by the force of the car. Fortunately, I was wearing one of those Sherlock Holmes-style winter hats for kids that my mother thought looked so cute on me. Thankfully, the hat cushioned the blow. I recovered, but my skull – though healed – still has a fracture line that I can run my fingers along.

Sherlock Holmes hat     donuts

I blame free donuts at Tim Hortons as the reason why I was hit by a car – well it’s not Tim Hortons fault, but their donuts are soooo good!

I crossed the busy street because it was the grand opening of a Tim Hortons  – and I wanted free donuts. Being five years old, I wasn’t really paying attention to traffic and more to the opportunity for free donuts…and…bam…thrown in the air to land on the pavement into unconsciousness.

What’s interesting about this story is that you are more likely to be able to visualize this incident and remember the details of the story with its connection to free donuts because of an emotional connection you’ve made to the knowledge I’ve shared. You would probably be less likely to do so if I simply presented this story with a list of strict facts:

  • I was five years old
  • I was hit by a car
  • There were free donuts

Since the very first days of tribal story telling, exchanging knowledge through stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. We all enjoy a good story. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that using stories to share knowledge is a much more effective way of retaining what’s being told. There’s also a neurological reason for it as well. When we are given information, the language processing parts in our brain are activated. When we hear a story many more parts of the brain respond. When a person shares knowledge through a story we connect intellectually and emotionally.

Sharing knowledge through storytelling is still very much a part of Aboriginal culture. I was reminded of this while thinking about a Knowledge Mobilization event I attended last year which focused on marginalized populations. Knowledge mobilization is about breaking down barriers and engaging with various groups in our society – including those that are homeless, of low-income, racialized minorities, Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), or from LGBT communities who are marginalized based on sexual orientation or gender diversity.

I have spoken about how I use social media – particularly Twitter – as an effective knowledge mobilization and storytelling tool and I am always surprised to hear that many knowledge mobilization leaders, knowledge brokers, scholars and educators are still not using social media as part of their own knowledge exchange work.

One of the more enjoyable presentations about knowledge mobilization and storytelling comes from David Phipps – a person who knows how to tell a great story and mobilize knowledge. One of David’s MobilizeThis! blogs is a great example of the power of story telling using social media for knowledge mobilization. In David’s engaging presentations he illustrates how understanding context is essential for effective knowledge mobilization – and how good storytelling can add to good knowledge exchange.

Fundamentally, Knowledge Exchange, Knowledge Mobilization, Translation, Implementation, K* (K-Star) – whatever you want to call it  – is about connecting the knowledge of PEOPLE. Each group has their own stories to tell in their own context – and each group can share knowledge through these stories. Knowledge doesn’t always have to be packaged in a formal, academic presentation or format. Sometimes simply being open-minded enough to listen to another person’s story – particularly those who are marginalized in our society – can be a powerful way of sharing and mobilizing knowledge.

But how do we engage marginalized populations using social media to better understand their context when some may not even have access to a computer? Or – more importantly – how can knowledge brokers collaborate with these often unheard voices and use social media for more effective knowledge mobilization?

One way that comes to mind is through digital storytelling.

I think of another great storyteller, Peter Levesque from Knowledge Mobilization Works, who also uses story telling as a KMb tool. Peter points to digital storytelling as “one of the MOST important forms of knowledge mobilization available to community-based organizations and citizens”. Peter uses a specific example of Aboriginal storytelling combined with digital technology as an effective method for understanding context, and conveying these stories through social media.

Additional examples of using social media for great and effective digital storytelling can be found at MindYourMind and HomelessHub who use both YouTube  and Twitter as knowledge mobilization tools.

As someone who strongly believes in the power of social media for knowledge mobilization, I see the combination of storytelling by marginalized communities using social media to convey context as an essential knowledge mobilization tool. If you’re a knowledge broker, scholar or educator – how well are you incorporating this equity tool into your knowledge mobilization strategy?

Now, for some reason…I feel like having a donut!

Gary 50 years

Knowledge Brokers As Translators & Diplomats

translate

How do you get people who speak different languages to understand one another? If you’ve ever travelled to other countries or been in a group of people who speak different languages where you’ve tried to make yourself understood you’ve probably used a series of gestures, facial expressions, body language or object-pointing to help with the various translations.

Researchers and policy makers are like these people who speak different languages from different countries.

Now what if you take this language and cultural barrier example one step further and find that not only are you not able to communicate with these other people – you’re also being ignored in your attempts to be understood. Researchers are often like the people trying to be understood in attempts to get their research implemented – while policy makers can be the ones doing the ignoring.

Researchers and policy makers are two highly specialized groups. Both have different goals, attitudes towards what is considered “evidence” based and how to “best” use it, perceptions of time-frames, and different demands and accountabilities on their work. Just like people of different languages and cultures, there are also issues of trust and respect that can come into play when some borders won’t even allow some people to cross into the country, as policy makers are skeptical about the usefulness of research – or worse – don’t even see a link between research and decision making.

 

How do we get them to understand each other? 

The most effective way is getting a translator.  

 

How do we get them to open up borders for less restricted access?

The most effective way is getting a diplomat.

 

That translator and diplomat for researchers and policy makers is a knowledge broker.

 

What if I want to get to certain places and across borders without a map, a directional, translational or transportation device to do so? Would simply wishing this to happen without the appropriate tools or resources make it happen? What about those obstacles that I might encounter along the way that might require new ways, inputs and possible detours to eventually get to my destination or be understood?

That’s where knowledge brokers come into the research process to close the loop (or untangle the spool of thread) in the knowledge mobilization process between research and policy making. Knowledge brokers bring in a knowledge of networks. They bring in connections. They bring in understanding of new technologies for knowledge translation and exchange. They make sure that research ideas can be widely disseminated, evidence-informed from a variety of stakeholders (a variety of “languages” and “cultures”) – not just from researcher or policy maker perspectives alone. Knowledge brokering works across sectors to ensure that research is made openly available and understood to society in the most effective manner in ways that bring wider benefit.

Within the science to policy stage, knowledge brokers offer professional, intermediary support as “translators” and “diplomats” to help guide researchers and policy makers in understanding each other. Knowledge brokers help traverse the structural issues around professional “language” and “cultural” boundaries established by the organizational norms and environments of researchers and policy makers – as well as many other stakeholders.

Knowledge brokers also help manage the barriers of institutional change and development while also understanding the context-specific elements of knowledge mobilization. As knowledge mobilization advisers, the roles and skills of knowledge brokers need to be clearly understood. David Phipps and Sarah Morton have written an excellent (and whimsical) practice-based article on the qualities required for successful knowledge brokers, which also includes valuable recommendations on recruiting and training knowledge brokers. The article may take a more light-hearted approach to the “idealised knowledge broker” but the importance of having knowledge brokers within universities, research institutions and other organizations with the appropriate skills is imperative for successful implementation of research to policy making.

Knowledge brokers also simplify the information between researchers and policy makers: Good examples are the Health Evidence Network (set up by the World Health Organization) which provides one page policy briefs in response to questions posed by policy makers; and the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada within the government of Canada to connect research and policy makers in transforming research “into products, services and processes that improve the lives of Canadians.”

Knowledge brokers can provide policy makers – who are already inundated with information – a brief synopsis of research such as those produced by ResearchImpact knowledge brokers as clear language research summaries. Such clear language research summaries are an effective and valuable way of briefing policy makers in a concise and understandable manner to integrate and synthesize scientific information into knowledge. Knowledge brokers who are supporting access to research and engaging with researchers, community organizations, practitioners, and policy makers can use clear language summaries as part of an institutional strategy for knowledge mobilization.

Knowledge mobilization helps support research collaborations and co-production of knowledge where researchers and policy makers partner to understand and produce knowledge that is relevant to academia as well as to real world problems. Knowledge brokers as “translators” and “diplomats” are also highly skilled professionals who help researchers and policy makers understand each other by developing knowledge mobilization strategies where different languages are spoken.

If you had language and cultural barriers, wouldn’t you want a translator or diplomat to help create understanding?

 

 

The Important Role Of The Knowledge Broker

broker

Knowledge mobilization (KMb) strategies that have been implemented into universities, research institutions and other organizations are context specific and are subject to frequent changes. This may cause faculty and/or staff working within these places to perceive particular barriers for community engagement and hinder internal motivation for successful application of KMb strategies. Even worse there can also be a pervasive institutional misunderstanding of what KMb actually is.

Overall institutional perceptions and governing support can affect faculty and/or staff perceptions which create barriers to knowledge mobilization (KMb) strategies. Such perceptions influence successful implementation of institutional KMb approaches and the policies that result from ineffective KMb plans. This is why there is tremendous value in establishing an actual knowledge mobilization unit within the university and/or institutional structure with trained knowledge brokers who act not only as official contact points for engagement with community but also as internal liaison offices to educate and inform staff and/or faculty – and most importantly institutional policy makers.

Knowledge brokers help manage the barriers of institutional change and development while also addressing the context specific elements of KMb. As the designated institutional KMb advisors within designated KMb units the roles and skills of knowledge brokers need to be clearly understood. David Phipps and Sarah Morton have written an excellent (and whimsical) practiced-based article on the qualities required for successful knowledge brokers, which also includes valuable recommendations on recruiting and training knowledge brokers. The article may take a more light-hearted approach to the “idealised knowledge broker” but the importance of having knowledge brokers within universities, research institutions and other organizations with the right skills is imperative for successful knowledge mobilization if the institution wants to maximize community engagement and the impact of research on public policy and professional practice.

If designated knowledge brokers are not employed specifically for this particular role with specific skills there will be role ambiguity and role conflict which was addressed in a special issue of Evidence & Policy. For those who are regular readers of my blog you know how much I have long been an advocate for open access to journals online as a public good. Regrettably, Evidence & Policy still limits itself to the old-style of peer-review publications. However, a journal club entry is freely available and does address one of the articles specifically about role ambiguity and role conflict.

The role of the knowledge broker – and hiring the right people with the right skills – must be considered one of the most important roles within the research/community engagement enterprise of an institution if the challenges of differing contexts and frequent changes are to be transitioned smoothly. The important role and skills of institutional knowledge brokers can also address the perceived barriers by faculty and/or staff working within these places by raising internal motivation for successful application of KMb strategies. And most importantly eliminate any pervasive institutional misunderstanding of what KMb actually is.

 

A New University Paradigm

university

Universities are considered one of our most reliable and cherished knowledge sectors with great expectations of delivering quality education and world-leading research. There has been increased pressure on universities for financial income and resources along with increased pressure from government granting agencies that expect a valuable public and/or private return of investment for providing research funding. With the creation of CIHR in 2000, Canadian health researchers were required to articulate knowledge translation strategies in their grant applications. Some NSERC funding programs require commercialization strategies. In 2011 SSHRC launched its renewed program architecture which requires all grant applications to have a knowledge mobilization strategy. This created an expectation that universities will effectively address social and economic issues and spend their money wisely – along with a mandate from the granting councils to incorporate knowledge mobilization and technology commercialization strategies into research grant applications.

So why aren’t some universities still not doing this?

If universities are to deliver the most promising benefits of knowledge and research for society and meaningfully follow funding guidelines an approach needs to be considered about how research is conducted. This approach needs to include those inside and outside the university who contribute to the research and social/economic innovation process. This is where knowledge mobilization comes in.  Yet many universities still have an unenthusiastic and unresponsive attitude to integrating knowledge mobilization and social innovation strategies into the university structure itself.  Many universities still do not have an actual knowledge mobilization unit within their university, or worse have a great misunderstanding of what knowledge mobilization actually is and how to do it successfully – which is also often the reason why they fail to receive funding from granting agencies and continue to struggle financially.

The old university paradigm of receiving funding without a knowledge mobilization strategy is dead.

Universities see themselves to be in a risky situation as a result of economic pressures combined with increasing demand for quality research to provide social benefit.  In a climate of uncertain funding and a greater demand for valuable research, understanding how knowledge mobilization can bring opportunities to improve research, create social and economic innovation and affect government policy needs to be considered. When this is done it leads to important social and economic change.

Community-University partnerships and engagement are not new and have been around for at least a decade. Some examples include CUPP Brighton UK, CUP Alberta, Canadian Social Economy Hub, Emory University Center for Community Partnerships, and Concordia University’s Office of Community Engagement. In an informative journal club post David Phipps also discusses Mobilising knowledge in community-university partnerships.

So some universities get it and are definitely ahead of the game as the public sector benefits from these community-university collaborations.  Yet there are other universities who continue to ignore the broader benefits of such synergies. This is where greater work needs to be done to help the universities who continue to be stuck in old academic-infrastructure paradigms and help sustain community-university partnerships programs that do exist by the institutions themselves.

Developing long-term knowledge mobilization and social innovation strategies involves commitment and greater cooperation from all bodies of the university – staff, students, faculty, deans, vice-presidents, and governing councils; and most importantly from the university president.  It’s about multi-disciplinary and inter-departmental conversations to provide differing views from varying capacities to create an academic environment that provides social benefit that includes engagement within and beyond the walls of the university from many directions.

The greater return on investment for social benefit requires a broader approach to have faculty, university research services, knowledge mobilization unit knowledge brokers and university industry liaison offices work together across sectors instead of as separate university contacts and entities. A great start of this integrated approach comes from the University of Alberta which has amalgamated the Industry Liaison Office, the Research Grants Office and components of Research and Trust Accounting into an integrated Research Services Office. U of A thinks “the move to a “one-stop shop” provides researchers with more effective and streamlined services, with enhanced accountability and productivity.” However, a truly integrated approach that maximizes the impact of university research would also include a knowledge mobilization unit.

Canada has ten universities that are part of ResearchImpact – a knowledge mobilization network with further examples of such integrated structures. UQAM engages both research services and technology transfer in their support of knowledge mobilization; Offices of research services at both Wilfrid Laurier University and York University include technology commercialization as well as York’s KMb Unit as research grant support; and University of Victoria combines research partnerships and knowledge mobilization (but this does not include grants).

Another interesting pan university approach to supporting innovation is the appointment of Angus Livingstone and Innovation Catalyst. Formerly head of the UILO, Angus took up this new post in February 2014. It is too early to know what impact this new position will have but one can only hope that it embraces social as well as economic and technology innovation.

A further set-back for Canadian universities is the recent Canadian government announcement in its 2014 budget of a $10-million College Social Innovation Fund connecting colleges with community-based applied research needs of community organizations.  Colleges and polytechnic institutions have traditionally been places for trade learning and apprenticeship. It now looks like they are stepping up into the league of universities to create social and economic innovation. It may be great news for colleges – not so much for universities; especially those who haven’t already started community-university engagement.

This infusion of capital into Canadian colleges for social innovation development has set back any future benefit and funding for Canadian universities who have not yet understood the connection between knowledge mobilization and social innovation, thereby creating a missed opportunity for certain universities to gain the lead on investment in knowledge mobilization and social and economic innovation.

As the saying goes…you snooze, you lose! So is your university a winner or a loser? 

Combining university knowledge mobilization units with university research services and industry liaison offices that engage with both community partnerships and business innovation opportunities all in a “one-stop-shop” can bring great returns on investment – socially and economically – for universities and communities – but some universities are sadly still far behind.

 

140 Twitter Characters To Knowledge Mobilization – Revisited

How have traditional models of research and dissemination changed to present new knowledge to the public or further inform research by creating broader public engagement?  Many researchers – particularly in the health sciences – are still embedded in long-established values and approaches to methodology and validity, often overlooking new modes of knowledge mobilization such as social media.

NCE Logo

One of my recent KMbeing blog posts presented a very brief Twitter survey of the 16 classic Networks of Centres of Excellence in Canada (NCE). The survey found that many of these NCEs are still not effectively using Twitter as a valuable social media tool that can enhance knowledge mobilization strategies. This quick overview showed that of those NCEs that could actually be found on Twitter only four NCEs tweet an average of just over one tweet per day – which is clearly insufficient for effective social media and potential stakeholder engagement. It would appear that using Twitter as part of a knowledge mobilization strategy is clearly not on the radar screen of many of these NCEs, despite the potential of Twitter (and social media) as a valuable means of addressing key outcomes mandated for NCEs – including working with end users to accelerate the creation and application of new knowledge.

To be fair, my own quick methodology of the previous survey focused on the average number of tweets per day over a 30 day period from the 14th February 2013 to the 15th March 2013.  The average number of tweets in a month was then divided by 30 to get the average number of tweets per day. Although the Twitter profile start date for each NCE was included along with the actual total number of tweets since each NCE began tweeting, this was not considered when doing the first brief survey.

So now, for part two of the original blog post survey 140 Twitter Characters To Knowledge Mobilization, I present a somewhat deeper (though still brief) analysis that takes into consideration the length of time each of these classic NCEs have used Twitter.

I used timeanddate.com to calculate the total number of days from the start date of each NCE Twitter profile to the 15th of March 2013 (up to and including March 15th to be consistent with the first survey). Then the total number of tweets since each NCE joined Twitter was divided by the total number of days each NCE has been using Twitter to create a tweet-intensity score.

Each NCE was then ranked, showing the following results:

Twitter Intensity Scores NCEs

 

                  

(Click on diagram above to enlarge)

Tweet-Intensity Ranking:

  1. Allergy, Genes and Environment Network – AllerGen
@AllerGen_NCE

(funding to 2019)

0.96

  1. AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence
@AUTO21NCE 

(funding to 2015)

0.83

  1. ArcticNet
@ArcticNet

(funding to 2018)

0.81

  1. Canadian Arthritis Network – CAN 
@commcan

(funding to 2014)

0.80

  1. Stem Cell Network – SCN
@StemCellNetwork

(funding to 2015)

0.73

  1. Carbon Management Canada – CMC
@cmc_nce

(funding to 2013)

0.47

  1. Canadian Stroke Network – CSN 
@strokenetwork

(funding to 2015)

0.37

  1. NeuroDevNet
@NeuroDevNet

(funding to 2014)

0.34

  1. Canadian Water Network – CWN
@CdnWaterNetwork

(funding to 2015)

0.28

  1. BioFuelNet 
@BioFuelNet

(funding to 2017)

0.13

  1. Graphics, Animation and New Media Canada – GRAND
@GRAND_NCE

(funding to 2014)

0.10

  1. Canadian Photonic Industry Consortium – CPIC 

Not Found

(no longer funded)

0.0

  1. GEOmatics for Informed DEcisions Network – GEOIDE 

Not Found

(no longer funded)

0.0

  1. Marine Environmental, Observation, Prediction and Response Network – MEOPAR 

Not Found

(funding to 2017)

0.0

  1. Mprime Network Inc.

Not Found

(funding to 2014)

0.0

  1. Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network – TVN 

Not Found

(funding to 2017)

0.0

Although it’s still a simple calculation from the total number of tweets since each NCE started using Twitter, the current results show a more accurate tweet-intensity over time, with one of the NCEs – AllerGen – ranking first and showing a fairly impressive use of tweeting for the shorter amount of time on Twitter.
(It would be interesting to include the number of followers into the mix to see if that variable contributes to tweet effectiveness – but I’ll save that for a future blog post!).

However, results still show that the average number of tweets per day still remains well under the evidence that a minimum of at least ten tweets per day creates more valuable engagement and greater opportunities for knowledge dissemination. There’s still room for improvement to create greater social media engagement for more effective knowledge mobilization.

Just as a comparison, I decided to look at the results for Canada’s leading knowledge mobilization network ResearchImpact and my own KMbeing Twitter account.

Twitter Profile Twitter Name Twitter Start Total Days On Twitter Total Tweets Tweet-Intensity Score
ResearchImpact @researchimpact May 15, 2009

1401

9450

6.74

KMbeing @kmbeing March 25, 2010

1087

9982

9.18

researchimpact

KMbeing logo

(Perhaps this is the reason why both ResearchImpact and KMbeing were voted in the top ten Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Influencers for 2011 and 2012).

Canadian policymakers and government agencies have recognized the value of drawing together leading researchers and research institutions into national research networks to support trans-disciplinary and multi-sectoral collaboration.  The effectiveness of these research networks are also a great example to the rest of the world.  It’s a first step towards incorporating knowledge mobilization into strategic planning to successfully increase communication and collaboration among a variety of stakeholders. It’s a changing research model using networking as part of the research process.

The next step for Canada’s flagship Science & Technology networks is to increase the use of social media for knowledge mobilization.  Again, social media is not a fad, and the use of social media for academics and institutions is becoming more incorporated into strategic planning. Many researchers and academic institutions are recognizing the value of using Twitter in a more consistent and productive manner for knowledge mobilization.

David Phipps

As David Phipps, Executive Director of Research and Innovation Services at York University (and ResearchImpact) pointed out in a keynote address to the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum in 2012 (and posted on the blog MobilizeThis!), the future of knowledge mobilization and research engagement will depend on social media, but researchers and knowledge mobilizers are still trying to figure out how to effectively use social media to do this.

15-20 years ago IT folks had to develop a business case to convince corporate leaders to invest in an enterprise e mail system. Today e mail is a fact of life (unfortunately). Many of us are now using social media as a broadcasting tool and a large portion are also using it as a listening tool. We are now starting to figure out how to use social media as a tool for engagement but we’re not there yet. These trends will accelerate.”

Just as email changed society, so too is social media changing the traditional models of research, dissemination and engagement. Social media provides new modes of knowledge exchange and broader public input, creating a further research resource in the current KMb world as a way of providing broader participation in discussions around research topics.  Social media also breaks down international barriers to share academic research in a way that is more friendly and immediate to a wider audience. Yet, social media is still a tool that needs to be used correctly to be effective (see my previous blog for tips on how to do this).

Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence are making a start.  They just need to continue to take a few more steps forward into new modes of research and into the future of using social media – especially Twitter – for knowledge mobilization.

Storytelling, Social Media, Equity, Knowledge Mobilization & Donuts!

storytelling

Sharing knowledge by telling a story can make a presentation, blog or conversation more interesting. Why?

When I was five years old, I was hit by a car. I fractured my collar-bone and was unconscious for nearly 48 hours. Doctors feared that I would suffer brain damage due to the impact of hitting my head against the pavement after being thrown forward by the force of the car. Fortunately, I was wearing one of those Sherlock Holmes-style winter hats for kids that my mother thought looked so cute on me. Thankfully, the hat cushioned the blow. I recovered, but my skull – though healed – still has a fracture line that I can run my fingers along.

Sherlock Holmes hat     donuts

I blame free donuts as the reason why I was hit by a car.

I crossed the busy street because it was the grand opening of a donuts shop – and I wanted free donuts. Being five years old, I wasn’t really paying attention to traffic and more to the opportunity for free donuts…and…bam…thrown in the air to land on the pavement into unconsciousness.

What’s interesting about this story is that you are more likely to be able to visualize this incident and remember the details of the story with its connection to free donuts because of an emotional connection you’ve made to the knowledge I’ve shared. You would probably be less likely to do so if I simply presented this story with a list of strict facts:

  • I was five years old
  • I was hit by a car
  • There were free donuts

Since the very first days of tribal story telling, exchanging knowledge through stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. We all enjoy a good story. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that using stories to share knowledge is a much more effective way of retaining what’s being told. There’s also a neurological reason for it as well. When we are given information, the language processing parts in our brain are activated. When we hear a story many more parts of the brain respond. When a person shares knowledge through a story we connect intellectually and emotionally.

Sharing knowledge through storytelling is still very much a part of Aboriginal culture. I was reminded of this at a three-day Knowledge Exchange (KE) Training event this past week attended by Regional KE leaders and team members from across the province of Ontario. Day one of the KE training focused on marginalized populations and how to engage with these various groups, such as those that are homeless, of low-income, racialized minorities, Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), or from LGBT communities who are marginalized based on sexual orientation or gender diversity. A session focusing on the use of the Health Equity Impact Assessment Tool (HEIA) presented how this tool can be used to identify and address potential unintended health impacts (positive or negative) when developing a policy, program or initiative with specific population groups.

I can certainly see the potential of incorporating HEIA into a knowledge mobilization (KMb) strategy as it helps us better understand context and equity. Yet, a broader and still underused knowledge mobilization tool to include the knowledge of marginalized populations is social media.

At the KE Training Event, I spoke with several knowledge brokers about how I use social media – particularly Twitter – as an effective knowledge mobilization tool. I was surprised to hear that many knowledge exchange leaders at the event are still not using social media as part of their own knowledge exchange work. Certainly, EENet, the Evidence Exchange Network is one step forward in using social media as a knowledge exchange tool. Yet, as I wrote in an earlier blog, the greater potential of using Twitter as a knowledge mobilization tool is still not clearly understood.

One of the more enjoyable presentations of the KE Training event was from closing keynote speaker David Phipps – a person who knows how to tell a great story to share knowledge. One of David’s MobilizeThis! blogs is a great example of the power of story telling using social media for knowledge mobilization. In David’s engaging presentation, he illustrated how understanding context is essential for effective knowledge mobilization.

Fundamentally, Knowledge Exchange, Knowledge Mobilization, Translation, Implementation, K* (K-Star) – whatever you want to call it  – is about connecting the knowledge of PEOPLE. Each group has their own stories to tell in their own context – and each group can share knowledge through these stories. Knowledge doesn’t always have to be packaged in a formal, academic presentation or format. Sometimes simply being open-minded enough to listen to another person’s story – particularly those who are marginalized in our society – can be a powerful way of sharing and mobilizing knowledge.

But how do we engage marginalized populations using social media to better understand their context when some may not even have access to a computer? Or – more importantly – how can knowledge brokers collaborate with these often unheard voices and use social media for more effective knowledge mobilization?

One way that comes to mind is through digital storytelling.

I think of another great storyteller, Peter Levesque from Knowledge Mobilization Works, who also uses story telling as a KMb tool. Peter points to digital storytelling as “one of the MOST important forms of knowledge mobilization available to community-based organizations and citizens”. Peter uses a specific example of Aboriginal storytelling combined with digital technology as an effective method for understanding context, and conveying these stories through social media.

Additional examples of using social media for great and effective digital storytelling can be found at MindYourMind and HomelessHub who use both YouTube  and Twitter as knowledge mobilization tools.

As someone who strongly believes in the power of social media for knowledge mobilization, I see the combination of storytelling by marginalized communities using social media to convey context as an essential knowledge mobilization tool. If you’re a knowledge broker – how well are you incorporating this equity tool into your knowledge mobilization strategy?

Now, for some reason…I feel like having a donut!