What do Machiavelli and Dr. Seuss have to do with Knowledge Mobilization?

Machiavelli and The Cat in the Hat

Concludero’ solo che al principe, e necessario avere ilpopolo amico – I will conclude then that it is necessary for the prince to have the people as friends.

Lesson: No silo research. Research partnerships must be broad and most importantly, engage the people impacted by the outcome.

ResearchImpact and a key community partner, the United Way of York Region recently published an article in Issue 22 (June 2009) of Research Global, the magazine of the Global Research Management Network published by the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

All we could do was to sit, sit, sit. And we did not like it, not one little bit. Then something went bump. How that bump made us jump.

Lesson: Enter all partnerships with an initial plan, a willingness to change depending on the circumstances and, when something goes bump, be present. Full commitment, engagement and openness are critical. If not, do not enter.

Research Global June 2009The article titled “Lessons learned from knowledge mobilisation: turning research into action” is a whimsical look at 10 lessons learned from 3 years of growing Canada’s first institutional knowledge mobilization unit broadly serving the needs of university faculty, graduate students and their non academic research partners.  Each lesson is inspired by and offered with apologies to either Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli’s The Prince or Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat and we back up each lesson with a real life example drawn from our own knowledge mobilization practice.

The lessons are instructive and the stories are real.  The article concludes “Universities need to work hard to develop relationships that include but also transcend individual researchers, projects and partners, in order to maximize the impact of the university on its communities, both local and global. Collaborating is not easy and you will encounter bumps along the road. The key to riding out the bumps is trust, a shared commitment, and never forgetting to communicate, communicate, communicate with funders, faculty, students and collaborators.”

Read the article and all 10 lessons here and see a PowerPoint presentation of the 10 lessons here.

ResearchImpact says O3 is an Overall Outstanding Opportunity

O3 Play Day July 2009

O3: ORION’s new social networking platform for Ontario researchers and their collaborators provides the most comprehensive suite of social networking and collaborating tools for research and knowledge mobilization.

Launched for early adopters at Discovery 2009, O3 serves the needs of: researchers “O3 enables researchers across groups, institutions and geographies collaborate on specific projects or build a community share ideas”; students “O3 is perfect for graduate students who need a place to collaborate on research wherever they are or create and share content that supports their learning” and educators “educators can build repositories of curriculum and teaching strategies to share across schools, boards and subject areas or interact with students.”  O3 has elements of social networking (blog, profile, messaging, comment board, photo gallery, chat) combined with the collaboration tools of a wiki and discussion forum combined with a document management system.  No other platform that I know of combined all of these elements.

And it’s free to Ontario researchers, educators and their collaborators both inside and outside Ontario. Members of the Ontario R+E community can contribute to the O3 community at large or have their own sub-community for their organization that can be as public or as private as they want to be. Throughout the summer, ORION is looking for keen early adopters to try out the service and help it tweak it for its official October launch at the ROM.

ResearchImpact has been a featured project on O3 since its launch and we have been exploring the functionalities for a couple of months.  On July 14 ResearchImpact hosted a morning of O3 play where we got to play with the features and provide technical and user feedback to ORION.  York’s KM Unit welcomed participation from ABEL, the Steacie Library, Toronto Region Conservation Authority, Canadian Mental Health Association, Institute for Work and Health and Mobilizing Minds a large mental health knowledge mobilization project hosted by York and U. Manitoba (see our previous Mobilizing Minds blog posting here) as we explored O3.

According to Liz Lambert (IWH), “O3 has many of the features that will allow IWH to manage our systematic reviews and other knowledge exchange projects. We look forward to exploring these features in greater depth.”

Certain features need to be improved such as the wiki (but we understand that a new wiki is forthcoming) and the message feature which needs to embrace more than 1-to1 messaging.  Overall the greatest attraction is the degree of flexibility of the system.  We were able to imbed a blog and twitter feed widget into the ResearchImpact O3.  We are also able to adeptly manage a variety of permissions to allow differential access to different features.

In addition to ResearchImpact, York University Information Technology is piloting O3 as a collaboration platform for research at York.  O3 promises to be the most useful tool for network enabled knowledge mobilization.  ResearchImpact will begin using O3 as a social networking platform for its main operation platform and we will encourage ResearchImpact associated projects such as Mobilizing Minds to adopt O3.

For more information on O3 please contact Gary Hilson  at gary.hilson@orion.on.ca.

ResearchImpact wishes Sarah Dickie all the best in her move to Prince George, BC.

Sarah has been the Administrative Coordinator for the UVic Office of Community Based Research for almost two years. Along with being a bright and smiling face in the office and dealing with the piles of day-to-day administrative tasks, Sarah has been vital to OCBR’s Community outreach work, and has also been the main coordinator for countless OCBR events and workshops. Sarah leaves very big shoes to fill, and will be missed dearly by those of us in the Office, across the campus, and also by our community partners and friends.

Good luck Sarah! Come back and visit soon.

Re-Launch of the Homeless Hub

The KM Units of York and UVic are pleased to support Stephen Gaetz and homelessness research including the Homeless Hub.  Mobilize This! recently wrote about some of this work and we are pleased to feature the re-launch of this knowledge mobilization website.

As featured in Yfile on Friday the Homeless Hub will re-launch providing researchers, students, schools and decision makers with enhanced access to research on issues related homelessness. From the Homeless Hub web site “Launched in 2007, the Homeless Hub is a web-based research library and information center representing an innovative step forward in the use of technology to enhance knowledge mobilization and networking. The Homeless Hub has emerged as a place where community services providers, researchers, government representatives, and the general public can access and share research, stories, and best practices.” The new and improved Homeless Hub continues this work, makes research even more accessible and interactive, it includes resources for educators and it hosts a downloadable e book “Finding Home”.

Stephen Gaetz (Faculty of Education, York University) is the principal investigator of the Homeless Hub which is supported by a SSHRC Cluster Grant and with support from Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy. He is also leader of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network.

New Homeless Hub Web Site

New Homeless Hub Web Site

1 Million Hits and Counting


We launched www.researchimpact.ca in 2006 and it was pretty much a place holder until May 2007 in time for Congress where ResearchImpact had its launch. The ResearchImpact web site at that time had a video or two (Ben Levin’s talk for example) but was mostly explaining what we were. May 2007 saw 17,773 hits total since inception.


ResearchImpact was updated with some new messages, a new look and a blog added for Congress 2008. More videos were added plus more success stories such as the Aboriginal Policy Research Forum. Some of our business started being transacted on the web site by inclusion of our Opportunity Description Form. May 2008 saw 382,204 hits total since inception.


Again for Congress 2009 we recently update our look and added new functionality including links to our web 2.0 spaces such as our Flickr photostream and our twitter page. A new feature is our ResearchSnapshot series of research summaries, look for more of these towards the end of the summer.


Late in May 2009 we surpassed 1 million hits on www.researchimpact.ca. Today York University released a story on this success. A big THANK YOU to all the faculty, students, funders, partners and administrators who helped ResearchImpact grow to this point.

Now we need to hear from you. Our services continue to evolve but we want to know what you are looking for in a KM web site and a KM service network. Use the comment feature on this blog story to tell us what you’d like to see out of future incarnations of the ResearchImpact web site and the ResearchImpact network.




Knowledge Mobilization at York Looks Forward

On June 5, the KM Unit at York spent a day off-site at the Toronto Centre for Social Innovation embarking on visioning exercises to help define the scope of programs that will be offered in the fall. This is important as the current project funding will be sunsetting and operations will need streamlining to support sustainability.

The efforts from the day resulted in the following, and we welcome your thoughts and comments. Just click on the comments button above this message and share your thoughts!

Vision Statement

National leaders in knowledge mobilization, connecting research and people for social innovation.

Mission Statement

The KM unit at York University is a service unit that:

    Builds a culture of knowledge mobilization
    Fosters collaboration
    Supports co-production of knowledge/research
    Connects policy and practice relevant research to decision makers
    Develops and delivers tools for knowledge mobilization

Our Values

Our service unit is built on the following values:

    Respect – knowledge has many forms and origins and flows in a two way direction
    Wisdom – grounding practice in theory and using practice to inform theory
    Honesty – knowledge brokers are impartial, client-focused and honest brokers
    Engagement – research engages with and is responsive to the needs of the partners
    Impact – real world solutions for real world problems

“How can my university get involved in ResearchImpact?”

This is the third year that ResearchImpact has been featured at CAURA and Congress. It is the third day of Congress and second day of CAURA, in Ottawa, and delegates at both events approached ResearchImpact with that common question. The question is even more interesting in that it is being echoed by graduate students, faculty, research administrators and senior academic administrators. It is an exciting situation for Canada’s Knowledge Mobilization Network.

The service orientated and university-wide mandate for ResearchImpact is closely aligned to SSHRC’s priorities for connection and impact across all disciplines in Social Sciences and Humanities, as well as CIHR’s knowledge translation mandate. KM also can have an impact wherever academic research can inform public policy and professional practice.

York and UVic, the founding members of ResearchImpact are exploring opportunities for expanding this network. We appreciate the interest shown in our work and welcome questions, comments and suggestions – both to this overarching question as well as toward the continuous improvement of knowledge mobilization services in Canada.

No decisions just questions at this time. For universities and their research partners… stay tuned.

ResearchSnapshot enhances broader access to research at York

Our new ResearchSnapshot series of clear language summaries of completed research was featured today in YFile, York’s daily news bulletin. You can search the ResearchSnapshot collection on our web site by clicking here.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

How would a community organization or policy-maker access social science or humanities research expertise from York? From the United Way of York Region to the Children’s Aid Society, non-academic audiences can now access ResearchSnapshot, a searchable library of summaries of research projects, completed by York’s Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Unit and launched at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Carleton University on May 24.


Funded by a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant and led by David Phipps, director, Office of Research Services, the first phase of ResearchSnapshot provides a database of 42 summaries of projects. The summaries – with expertise ranging from organizational behaviour to homelessness and immigration – are searchable by researcher, subject or keyword. Each summary is written in simple language intended to highlight the research expertise at York and inform decisions about public policy or professional practice.

A look at one ResearchSnapshot, about research on the impact of management policies on the nutrition of homeless youth in Canada, informs organizations that research by York education Professor Stephen Gaetz found that the policies intended to help homeless youth are, in fact, having a negative effect. The research identifies that policies are forcing youth to rely on limited emergency food aid and instead of becoming independent they are increasing their chances of malnourishment. Similarly, all summaries identify the research methods, background, results and possible applications, as well as provide a brief biography of the researcher.

“York’s social science and humanities researchers are well-recognized by the international research community. ResearchSnapshot now allows us to systematically extend that reach. Since we had identified the need for policy- and decision-makers to have access to research results that were written in plain language, these summaries are crucial in filling the implementation gap by strengthening the movement for evidence-based policy,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation.

To view the full YFile story, click here.

To search the ResearchSnapshot collection, click here.

ResearchImpact.ca has a New Look!

After 2 years with our old Web site, we decided it needed a bit of a make-over. We’ve updated the look, added features such as videos, an events calendar, links to our twitter feed and other Web 2.0 tools, as well as a new online opportunity description form. This new form will allow our visitors to submit a potential research opportunity right from our Web site.

Check it out over at www.researchimpact.ca and let us know what you think of the changes by adding a comment to the posting.

ResearchImpact's new look

The Blogosphere and Beyond

If you’re reading this on our blog you’re almost part of the blogosphere. If you’re reading this because you received Mobilize This! in your e mail inbox you’re not, but I bet you’re thinking about it. In Wikinomics, Don Tapscott describes the web 2.0 world as the blogoshpere which represents the ecosystem of wikis, blogs, Facebook, twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube, Ning, wiggio, MySpace and any other number of social networking platforms that blur the line between on line content creation and consumption. Web 1.0 was a publishing platform where you read what I wrote. Web 2.0 allows the reader to interact with the writer creating an iterative dialogue where the lines between reader and writer become indistinct.

Go on, try it. Hit the comment link above and tell us what you think or at least tell us you are there. Do it and you’ve joined the blogosphere.

According to the Globe & Mail (“The medium is no longer the message”, March 10, 2009), “blogging and social-network sites such as Facebook and Twitter are now the fourth-most popular online activities, eclipsing e-mail and growing twice as fast as any other category in the top three…”

twitterResearchImpact has a blog, you’re reading it. We also use a wiki to collaborate on content, share documents and develop our thinking using discussion threads. Now you can follow us on twitter. Twitter will be updated a number of times daily both at York and UVic. You’ll not only be able to follow our knowledge brokers you’ll be able to hear about events as they happen, blogs as they are posted, know which exciting faculty member or community partner we’re about to meet with. This blog tells you our edited version of the story. Twitter will make you part of it.

To follow ResearchImpact on twitter you need to sign up for a twitter account at twitter.com and click on “Get Started – Join”. It’s fast and it’s free. Go to twitter.com/researchimpact and click on “follow” and you’ll get our updates as they happen. Follow us and interact with us. Use the “reply” feature by clicking on the back arrow in each tweet or the “message” feature on the right hand tool bar and tell us what is cool – or not – about what we’re doing. Give us feedback. Give us tips like someone you know who needs what we’re doing and we’ll be better positioned to meet the needs of our diverse stakeholders.

Follow us and by interacting, lead us to better knowledge brokering.

Twitter. Check us out.

UVic Summer Interns 2009

The interns for UVic’s KM/CBR Sumer Internship program have been selected! Through the ResearchImpact initiative, the UVic Office of Community Based Research is sponsoring ten graduate students to work hands on with a local Community Organizations on a piece of research relating to social policy. The UVic KM Coordinator received 27 outstanding proposals, and an evaluation panel comprised of both academic and community voices narrowed it down to ten projects. The project partners include AIDS Vancouver Island, Our Place Society, Blood Ties Four Directions Center, the Sto:lo Resource Management and Resource Center, to name a few. The students are currently working on their Human Research Ethics proposals, and then the real work begins! The UVic Office of Community Based Research and Knowledge Mobilization Unit are thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity for deserving graduate students to respond to research needs in their community.

ResearchImpact Funds Homelessness Research and Knowledge Mobilization

“At this time, there is a dearth of information on the effectiveness of our responses to homelessness and our service models, including housing programs. That is, there is very little evaluation research of programs in Canada…In an era of increasing solutions to homelessness, it is increasingly important to know what works, why it works and for whom it works.”

Stephen Gaetz

Stephen Gaetz

ResearchImpact has a mandate to link researchers and decision makers in Victoria and Toronto but such collaborations need to be seeded in order to develop into full partnerships. ResearchImpact is investing in collaborative research and KM projects that address social challenges that are common to the two cities. Through a competitive process York has made a $30,000 grant to a project lead by Stephen Gaetz (York University), Bernie Pauly (University of Victoria) and their community partners Rachel Gray (Eva’s Initiatives), Kathy Stinson (Victoria Cool Aid Society) and Jill Clements, (Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness). Stephen and Bernie are joined by colleagues at York (Uzo Anucha, Stephanie Baker Collins, Michaela Hynie and Daphne Winland) and at UVic (Jutta Gutberlet, Aleck Ostry, Margo Matwychuk and Darlene Clover).

Their project, Ending Homelessness: “What works and for whom?” will establish a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of programs that address ending homelessness and it has three components:

• Based on a review of the literature and expert consultation, develop indicators for assessing programs and practices aimed at ending homelessness;


Bernie Pauly

• Develop and test an evaluation framework for assessing the effectiveness of programs for ending homelessness

• Using plain language summaries, technology to enhance access to the project and dissemination using the Homeless Hub the project will mobilize knowledge related to best practices in ending homelessness and guidelines for program evaluation in order to enhance community capacity and to allow other communities to use the evaluation methodologies developed.

The project will run jointly in both cities and results made available during Fall 2009. Good luck to the team. Stay tuned to Mobilize This! for more information on this and other investments ResearchImpact is making for social innovation.

ResearchImpact helps to launch Mobilizing Minds: Pathways to Young Adult Mental Health

David Phipps, ResearchImpact/York University
Tara Syed, Mobilizing Minds/Trent University

Mobilizing Minds is a $1.5M CIHR funded 5 year KM project which is a partnership between young adults and academic researchers (jointly lead by York and UManitoba). The project will develop tools to inform young adults’ decisions about mental health and will also study the process of KM and young adult/adult partnership. This past weekend (Feb 28 and March 1) the young adult leaders and adult mentors met at the Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement in Toronto to launch the youth engagement aspect of the project. Young adults received an over view of the project and learned the basics of KM through the KM Rap (which may, or may not, be coming to a video near you…). The young adult leaders brainstormed ideas for young adult engagement on all the project teams and the young adult leaders identified two projects of particular interest to them.

1) By examining key organizations that have already undertaken the integrated health team approach, the young adult team will create a model for the integration of health care professionals into centres where normally only primary care physicians would be accessible. Another goal in this initiative is to develop the structure for a youth advisory board to provide feedback to the health team and to identify a youth advocate to help navigate new comers to the system.

2) Increase public awareness and education about treatment options (includes conventional medicine, alternative therapies, and psychological/cognitive therapies) available to those experiencing mental health issues and disorders. Efficacy, side effects and withdrawal symptoms, if any, will be included in the discussion of each treatment option.

Tara Syed is a 3rd year Biology major at Trent University and, partnered with ResearchImpact’s David Phipps, is the young adult leader on the Community Partnership Team. In addition to getting community and practitioner input into the Mobilizing Minds project Tara identified that it was equally important to get young adult input into policy decisions in community and practitioner organizations. Tara and David agreed to identify lead community and practitioner champions in Toronto and Peterborough and jointly develop a strategy for community engagement on the project.

A big thank you to those community organizations who have already given their support to the project. You’ll be hearing from us.

ResearchImpact welcomes the launch of Yaffle

A yaffle of wood. A yaffle of fish. A yaffle of research?

A word drawn from Newfoundland English got a new meaning today, thanks to an initiative undertaken by Memorial University of Newfoundland. The university launched a new online resource – called Yaffle – aimed at providing greater accessibility to the university’s research expertise and research projects.
According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, a yaffle is defined as “an armful (of dried and salted cod-fish, kindling, etc.); a load.”

Memorial’s Yaffle is a sophisticated online resource that allows users to find an expert, query research being done by the university in their geographic region, and even suggest research ideas. Compiled by the university’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, the new resource is a search engine of Memorial’s expertise and community development resources.
Yaffle enables users, such as individuals, community groups, and governments, to search for expertise in a variety of fields. It contains nearly 1,000 lay summaries on various projects being carried out by the university, everything from marine transportation options for the Strait of Belle Isle to financial sustainability plans for not-for-profit provincial museums. In addition, Yaffle provides a portal on over 400 experts in a range of fields, many of whom are available for media interviews or speaking engagements.

“Memorial University is one of the most innovative research facilities in Canada and Yaffle will make that research easily accessible to people living anywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador and, indeed, throughout the world,” said acting Memorial president Dr. Eddy Campbell. “We have a vast store of resources available and Yaffle is how we intend to share those resources. We want our communities to know how our expertise can be deployed for their benefit and improved well-being. For individuals, communities, businesses, governments and all kinds of organizations, finding out what research has been done and what expertise exists on a topic is essential to making informed decisions.”

“We’ve had discussions with partner organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador outside Memorial who see the potential of linking information on their expertise, research and projects, to enable more widespread access and sharing of knowledge,” said Dr. Rob Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre. “Any organization, in the public, private or voluntary sectors, that has a mandate to share knowledge, or that could benefit by linking to it, would benefit by linking to Yaffle.”

Dr. Greenwood also noted that Yaffle is getting national attention as a unique and effective tool. “There are knowledge mobilization experts around the country who are looking to Memorial and Yaffle as an example of what could become the Canadian vehicle for knowledge sharing. We have interest from several Canadian universities who are considering how they can use our technology and processes to apply in their own institutions.”

Dr. David Phipps, director, Research Services and Knowledge Exchange at York University, is one expert who’s watching Yaffle’s success very closely. “Yaffle is a compelling experiment on how to identify, develop and manage community-university partnerships. It has the potential to do for knowledge mobilization and community-based research what online dating services have done for interpersonal relationships – enhanced access to opportunities for relationships. I look forward to seeing the impact of Yaffle so that we can evaluate the utility of the system.”

“On behalf of the Provincial Government, I extend congratulations to Memorial University of Newfoundland on the launch of this important new research tool,” said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. “Yaffle will help Memorial’s researchers get better connected to the broader community, and in turn this will help all of us build a sustainable knowledge-based society and economy for the province’s future.”

“Yaffle is a unique and compelling online resource that will link Memorial’s reservoir of knowledge with communities from Corner Brook to Nanaimo,” said Dr. Chad Gaffield, president of the Social Societies and Humanities Research Council of Canada. “Canada’s universities continue to develop innovative projects like Yaffle which are important components of knowledge mobilization. SSHRC is pleased to support this innovative project that clearly demonstrates the value of social sciences and humanities research to Canadians and the world.”

Today’s launch included local musician Sean Panting who wrote and performed a song about Yaffle. “There is no doubt that this is a celebration,” Dr. Campbell said. “We do feel this is a critical initiative for the province. Memorial University has always been connected to the community, and Yaffle is a tremendous enhancement to our relationship with communities around the province.”

Researchers and community partners on the west coast of Newfoundland and in Labrador gathered to join the celebration via videoconference. At Memorial’s Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, Prof. Gerard Curtis of Grenfell’s visual arts program, and Dr. Greg Wood, Corner Brook regional planner, presented their experiences with Memorial’s research and community outreach. In Labrador, Dr. Ron Sparkes of the Labrador Institute and Marina Biasutti-Brown with the Nunatsiavut Government shared their views on how important Yaffle is to accessing research at Memorial.

Formerly known as the Memorial University Regional Inventory (MURI), Yaffle is also replacing Memorial’s long-running Book of Experts, a media reference guide listing faculty and staff and their areas of expertise. Funding for Yaffle has been provided by the Harris Centre, Memorial University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada-Newfoundland and the Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement.

Yaffle is now up and running and being continually updated, and is available on the internet to communities around the province and around the country. To visit Yaffle, go to www.yaffle.ca.

ResearchImpact IPM Grant Extension

Since 2005 ResearchImpact has been supported by SSHRC and CIHR through an Intellectual Property Mobilization (IPM) grant awarded to York and UVic. This was the first IPM grant in the 10 year history of the IPM program that funded knowledge mobilization for policy and practice relevant research. In Spring 2008 this tri-council program afforded all active IPM grantees the opportunity to extend their existing grants by 18 months. Recently York and UVic received notice from SSHRC and CIHR that the IPM grant for ResearchImpact was extended to November 30, 2009.

The ResearchImpact partners are committed to working locally and networking nationally to create structures and services that enhance knowledge mobilization to maximize the social, cultural, environmental and economic impacts of university research. ResearchImpact would like to thank SSHRC and CIHR for their continued support of knowledge mobilization. York and UVic’s Knowledge Mobilization Units provides services and funding for faculty, graduate students, and community/government organizations seeking to maximize the impact of academic research and expertise on public policy, social programming, and professional practice. It is supported by SSHRC and CIHR grants, and by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (York) and Office of the Vice-President Research (UVic), as well as support from local partners.