Getting Back to Basics / Retour aux fondements

By David Phipps (RIR-York)

Inspired by a campfire and a few beers, David Phipps (RIR-York) reflects on Using Evidence and looks back to the future of knowledge mobilization.

Inspiré par un feu de camp et par quelques bières, David Phipps (RIR-York) réfléchit à l’utilisation des données probantes et jette un regard sur l’avenir de la mobilisation des connaissances.

I was camping this weekend. I have been camping with this same group of friends on this same weekend for years so rain or shine we go and have a great time.  We have a great time doing almost nothing for three days.  We sit around a fire.  We play games.  We get caught up with friends we don’t see too often. We read. And we have a couple of beers (okay, more than a couple).  This year it rained. Our tents were damp but nothing could dampen our spirits (thank you Bud Light Lime). Because it was raining, I took some time out to work on a book chapter we have been invited to write for an open access book titled Social Sciences and Humanities – Applications and Theories. Part of the chapter is, of course, a lit review so I have been revisiting some foundational KMb literature.  

After a lovely time with Sarah Morton and Sandra Nutley this summer (thank you Gary Myers, @kmbeing for your blog), I took some time this weekend and returned to Using Evidence that Sandra Nutley published in 2007 with her colleagues Isabel Walter and Huw Davies. I got back to KMb basics while getting back to the basics of living in a tent and cooking over a camp fire.

When I first read Using Evidence in 2007 York’s KMb Unit had been operating for one year.  We had just hired our second full time staff person and we had more KMb enthusiasm than KMb talent. In 2011, York is leading ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche, we have published on our work, spoken internationally and I have met Sandra twice and look forward to seeing her again as we both speak at the CRFR 10th Anniversary National Conference in Edinburgh in November. It is interesting to revisit foundational literature like Using Evidence and see the literature through a lens of experience. I can now synthesize key messages and see the KMb forest where before I saw only a collection of KMb trees.

There are lots of key messages arising from Sandra’s book.  The three I take home after reflecting on our five years of KMb service are:

  • KMb is a social process
  • Efforts to enhance KMb need to be interactive and focus on the relationships between researchers and decision makers
  • KMb happens at the level of the individual but future efforts will explore KMb at the level of the organization/system

There are two implications of these take home messages for York and RIR:

  1. If KMb is a social process then social media tools should be able to contribute to the process of KMb
  2. Systems level KMb need to use interactive methods to support individual KMb relationships

York and all the RIR universities are building KMb services at the institutional level to serve a system of researchers and their (primarily) local research receptor organizations. We have also frequently blogged about the role of social media in KMb (search the “social media” tag on Mobilize This!) and most recently on August 25. In our book chapter we will present some evidence we have collected about how we are using twitter to support a KMb community of practice for KMb stakeholders.

In 2007 we were learning the basics.  Four years later we return to the basics so we can look to the future.  Interactive relationships between researchers and decision makers are the foundation of KMb. In the future we will develop system level KMb supported by social media so that we can continue to build on the basics and better foster those interactive relationships.

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