Six Actions to Mobilize Knowledge / Six actions pour mobiliser les connaissances

On January 31, 2017, Bev Holmes and Allan Best summarized their recent paper in Evidence & Policy that seeks to make sense of the complexity of knowledge mobilization by pointing to six key actions that can be taken by initiative managers and key influencers.

Le 31 janvier 2017, Bev Holmes et Allan Best ont résumé leur récent article, paru dans Evidence & Policy, dans lequel ils cherchent à expliquer la complexité de la mobilisation des connaissances. Ils indiquent six actions clés qui sont à la portée des gestionnaires d’initiative et des grands influenceurs.

Puzzle piecesOn February 9, 2017, I wrote in Mobilize This! about a paper I published with colleagues that outline five determinants of successful knowledge brokering. Bev Holmes and Allan Best have done something similar. The paper I did was based on a transnational comparison of knowledge brokering practices. Holmes & Best come at it from complexity studies. They advocate working with complexity rather than trying to avoid it.

Their six key actions are: co-producing knowledge, establishing shared goals and measures, enabling leadership, ensuring adequate resourcing, contributing to the science of knowledge-to-action, and communicating strategically.

Our five determinants of successful brokering are: build trust; develop capacity; co-construct knowledge; understand the political, social and economic context; and build culture.

The differences are interesting but so are the similarities. Both articles reference co-producing/co-constructing knowledge. Ensuring adequate resources is similar to building capacity. Enabling leadership is part of building a culture of knowledge brokering. You need to understand the political, social and economic context (Phipps et al) before you can establish shared goals and measures (Holmes & Best).

What is also interesting from Homes & Best is they identify two types of knowledge mobilizers who can be involve in each of their six actions. They identify “those who: (1) are managing specific knowledge mobilization initiatives (initiative managers), and (2) are in a position to make the environment more receptive to change (key influencers).”

This distinction is important as we consider the increasingly professionalized cohort of knowledge mobilization practitioners. These different cohorts of knowledge mobilization practitioners are managing projects (initiative managers) and environments (key influencers) and this starts to create organizational structures for resourcing knowledge mobilization. This may not be relevant to the many knowledge mobilization practitioners who work as solo operators in their organization but for those working in units we will expect to see various “levels” of practitioners.

We will always need front line knowledge brokers – the initiative managers of Holmes & Best. But we will also see a managerial level and a leadership level. As we consider the key competencies for knowledge mobilization practitioners (a group @JulieEBayley and I call research impact practitioners) we will need to understand how these competencies map onto different levels of practitioners from the brokers doing the work, the people managing the brokers and the people who are leading systems of knowledge mobilization.

Will the competencies vary or will the types of work undertaken to practice the competency change?

How to Influence Policy / Pour influencer les politiques

Sending your research to policy makers will have little influence on their decisions; however, if you understand these 10 elements then you have a better chance at creating the conditions where your research can inform policy.

Le fait d’envoyer vos travaux de recherche aux décideurs aura peu d’influence sur leurs décisions ; mais si vous comprenez bien ces 10 éléments, vous saurez mettre en place les conditions dans lesquelles vos travaux auront de meilleures chances d’influencer les politiques.

10 Things to know about how to influence policy with research

For all the academic researchers (and their supporters and partners) in the audience, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is the UK’s leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues. I love this short but highly informative summary synthesizing many years of scholarship and practice on research to policy impact. Louise Shaxon is a co-author, someone who has worked on the ground in policy influence.

This document illustrates how difficult it is to influence policy makers and gives tips on how to overcome some of the barriers. The top 10 are below. Check out the document for tips on each of these that will help to move your research evidence towards policy.

1. Know what you want to influence
2. Know who you want to influence
3. Know when to influence – this is often harder to know than the first two
4. Build relationships and networks
5. Policy development is not a linear process
6. Policy making is inherently political
7. Plan your engagement
8. Focus on ideas (not problems) and be proposition (i.e. give them a solution)
9. It takes time
10. Monitor, learn and adjust along the way

A note on three of these:

#6. Policy making is inherently political. A senior bureaucrat said to me once, “Evidence doesn’t vote”. Evidence is only one input into the policy making process. This connects to #4 Relationships and Networks. You (and your evidence) won’t succeed alone. Make the connections to other parts of the broader policy system (advocates, associations, the public, media) to align policy advocacy efforts.

#7. Plan Your Engagement: This document recommends you go beyond dissemination methods to more engaged methods of uptake such as public events and meetings. I don’t think this goes far enough. We know from the PARIHS framework that uptake of evidence needs to be facilitated in the context of decision making. Meetings are good. Facilitated workshops of your evidence with policy makers, especially if the workshop is jointly facilitated by a policy maker, will create greater opportunities for policy makers to engage with your evidence. And yet I will go one step further. Seek opportunities to collaborate with policy makers to co-create the evidence that they need and is also important to your scholarship. This is not them contracting you to do their work (although that also has a role) but about finding areas of mutual interest that produce excellent academic scholarship that can also be used in decision making. See Bowen & Graham for more on engaged scholarship vs. knowledge transfer.

#10. Monitor, learn and adjust along the way. In addition to the actions in the document, I recommend you remain in touch with the policy makers so that you can capture the evidence of the impact of your efforts. You won’t know: 1) if your research was used; and 2) if it was did that use informed a change; and 3) if it did what difference did the change make to anyone. This doesn’t have to be onerous or formal. An e mail or phone call every six months reminding them of your engagement efforts and asking if the evidence was used, implemented and if it made a difference will help you track from your research to your engagement efforts to eventual policy impact.

Thank you, Louise and colleagues, for a concise and useful document to guide policy influence. It’s not an easy process but you have provided guidance to overcome some of the barriers.

The document can be downloaded from ODI here.

Mobilizing Knowledge to Give Children and Families the Best Start: Research and Knowledge Mobilization Sub-Committee of Durham’s Best Start Network

This week’s guest post comes from Darren Levine, Manager of the Innovation and Research Unit in the Social Services Department of the Regional Municipality of Durham, on behalf of the Research and Knowledge Mobilization Sub-Committee of Durham Region’s Best Start Network.

Durham Region logoOver the past several months, the Research and Knowledge Mobilization Sub-Committee of Durham Region’s Best Start Network has begun to mobilize local EDI (Early Development Instrument) data to inform practice across Durham’s early learning community. This sub-committee is comprised of representatives from The Region of Durham’s Social Services Department, Innovation and Research Unit, and Health Department, local academic organizations including the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College, and community agencies.

EDI data is gathered every several years to examine school readiness in young children and is led by the Offord Centre. Following each gathering of the data, a research report is written and is used to inform planning. Our sub-committee has taken recent EDI research and, earlier this month, completed our first two resources – an at-a-glance poster to be placed on the walls of early learning centres, and a two page “research-to-practice” highlight to be circulated amongst early learning professionals. These resources translate areas of the EDI that suggest opportunities for improvement into tangible, evidence-informed strategies for early learning professionals. These initial prototype resources have been very well received and we have begun to receive requests to put up the posters and distribute the summaries in early learning and childcare centres across Durham Region.

We are very excited and, in the new year our sub-committee will be scaling up to translate and mobilize other parts of Durham Region’s EDI data into tangible products for early childhood professionals, as well as explore digital platforms to support and enhance this work. We will also be exploring ways in which we might evaluate the impact of our work. Equally exciting is the very strong academic-community relationships that have been formed, and the shared leadership to co-create these resources that has emerged from all members of our sub-committee. Knowledge mobilization is truly a team effort!

Our sub-committee could not have gotten here without inspiration and all that we have learned from York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit!

Members of this sub-committee include:

Darren Levine – Innovation and Research Unit, Durham Region Social Services Department (Co-Chair)
Ann LeSage, University of Ontario Institute of Technology (Co-Chair)
Alison Burgess, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Denise Cashley, Resources for Exceptional Children and Youth, Durham
Erin O’Dacre, Durham Farm and Rural Family Resources
Gloria Duke-Aluko, Innovation and Research Unit, Durham Region Social Services Department
Jackie Dick, PRYDE Early Learning Centres
Jane Thompson, YMCA of Greater Toronto
Jason Warga, Resources for Exceptional Children and Youth, Durham
Julie Gaskin, Durham Region Children’s Services
Karen Chartier, Lake Ridge Community Support Services
Laura Stephan, Innovation and Research Unit, Durham Region Social Services Department
Lorraine Closs, Durham College
Mary Lennon, Lake Ridge Community Support Services
Nicole Doyle, Durham College
Pam Douglas, Durham College
Susan Mace, Durham Region Heath Department
Taryn Eickmeier, Durham Region Children’s Services
Terra Mucci, Resources for Exceptional Children and Youth, Durham
Tracey Hull-Gosse, Durham College

2017 Call for Content for the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum

This week’s guest post comes from the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization announcing their call for content for #CKF17.

PDF: CKF17 Call for Content & Fillable WORD CKF17 Call for Content Form

Call for Content #CKF17

The Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum was created in 2012 as a professional development forum for practitioners and professionals working in knowledge mobilization across fields and sectors.

It has become recognized as a premiere learning and networking event in Canada – friendly, open, limited in size, and creative. Events have been held in Ottawa (2012), Mississauga (2013), Saskatoon (2014), and Montréal (2015), Toronto (2016), and is scheduled for May 17-18, 2017 in the National Capital Region of Canada, Ottawa-Gatineau.

The theme for 2017 is:

Connections and Partnerships: Collaboration as a Key to Knowledge Mobilization

From the very start of the conversation about Knowledge Mobilization in Canada, connections and partnerships have been part of the narrative. Collaboration is a key component of many, if not most activities in Knowledge Mobilization. True to the meaning of the word, collaboration is often hard work. It requires us to co-labor together, to co-construct priorities, programs, policies, processes that lead to the use of evidence. Together, we build better communities and societies.

The theme for 2017 focuses us on how to be better together. We invite participation that will push thinking and engagement of the knowledge mobilization community further. The Forum will be hosted at the Canadian Museum of History and the Sheraton Four-Points Gatineau Hotel.

We are seeking presentations, posters, workshops, and open-space activities that facilitate active participation, networking, reflection and learning.

We are driven by an objective of allowing you to design your own conference experience that reflects your interests, experience, priorities and learning styles. Drawing on the assets of the National Capital Region, leaders in knowledge mobilization from all across Canada and beyond, it is our hope you will come away from CKF17 enriched, energized and engaged in this field like never before.

Our objectives are:

    Build on the past successes of CKF make this a preeminent event to learn and engage about knowledge mobilization in Canada
    Build capacity for knowledge mobilization
    Learn about work in other sectors to enable partnerships and collaboration
    Engage with leaders to influence future directions
    Meet the next generation of leaders and create opportunities to mentor and coach
    Access the latest tools, techniques and opportunities.

The 2017 Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum is seeking contributions for content, which addresses the overall theme of Connections and Partnerships: Collaboration as a Key to Knowledge Mobilization, and links to the subthemes of:

Subtheme 1: Structures – What (for example: operating structures supporting partnerships, agreements, management systems, office layouts enhancing collaboration )

Subtheme 2: Processes – How (for example: tool boxes, networks, communities of practice, training)

Subtheme 3: Technology – Technology and Tools (for example: social media, apps, software, knowledge boards, database mining, CRM programs)

We are continuing to use the “The Knowmo Scale”. Here, we’re seeking presenters to consider their audience. Consider this our own unique variation of the Scoville Unit scale.

Is your presentation focused around skill development? If so, you would check off Knowmo 1.

Will you present on where we are in terms of KMb? If so, you would check off Knowmo 2.

Does your presentation focus on innovation in/for KMb? If so, please check off Knowmo 3.

We are seeking the following:

1) Catalyst Presentations of 10 minutes each

For each session, a small group of presenters will each engage the audience with a focused 10-minute presentation. Feel free to be provocative or pose questions. This will be followed by a 30-minute group discussion of the ideas presented, the connections that emerge, and implications for knowledge mobilization practice. People can apply individually or identify other presentation proposals they would like to be considered grouped with.

The value of these sessions emerges from the EXCHANGE of all participants. The presenters create a catalyst to conversation. Each session will be moderated by a session Chair.

2) Poster Presentations

Recommended max poster size is 36”/92cm high by 60”/152 cm wide. The posters will be juried by an expert panel of knowledge mobilization practitioners. Posters will be profiled at a specific event and you will have two minutes to share ‘what you need to know’ about your poster with all participants.

3) Professional Development Workshops to enable creativity of 50 minutes each

Workshops are an opportunity to share methods and tools useful to the practice of knowledge mobilization professionals in an interactive and engaging format. The aim is to help participants to improve their skills and understanding of KMb and to become better mobilizers.

Alternatively, people are welcome to submit presentations which are less interactive and more informative. For both, participants are welcome to consider non-traditional approaches for this exchange process: Fireside Chat; Debate; Panel Presentations or others.

4) Open Space – Approx. 45-60 minutes

Open Space is the only process that focuses on expanding time and space for the force of self-organisation to do its thing. Although one can’t predict specific outcomes, it’s always highly productive for whatever issue people want to attend to. Some of the inspiring side effects that are regularly noted are laughter, hard work which feels like play, surprising results and fascinating new questions.

— Michael M Pannwitz, Open Space practitioner

Participants are encouraged to take a leadership role in prompting and facilitating open space mini-conferences within the more structured program. In order to create appropriate spaces, we ask participants to indicate their intention and potential topic areas for discussion.

Review

All contributions will be reviewed by an independent selection committee and judged for quality of content, the opportunity to advance our understanding of knowledge mobilization, and relevance to the theme of the 2017 Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum.

The deadline for contribution is March 15, 2017.

Please fill the Call for Content Form and send to: peter@knowledgemobilization.net

Note: Selected content must be presented by a registered participant at the 2017 Canadian

Knowledge Mobilization Forum in Ottawa-Gatineau, May 17-18, 2017.

Further details will be posted on the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization’s website:

www.knowledgemobilization.net/forum.

Challenging Perceptions by Changing Ourselves / Défier les à priori en nous transformant

“There has been a shift in focus over the last two decades or so, moving away from a concern around ‘productivity’ to an emphasis on ‘innovation’, and, as we have seen here in Canada with the federal government’s new innovation agenda, towards ensuring that considerations of social inclusion are included in any innovation strategies or frameworks.”

« Depuis 20 ans environ, on assiste à une réorientation des priorités qui nous éloigne du souci de “productivité”, pour nous rapprocher de l’“innovation” et – comme on l’a vu ici, au Canada, avec le nouveau programme du gouvernement fédéral – de l’inclusion des enjeux de la solidarité sociale dans toutes les stratégies et les structures d’innovation. »

This is how Mamdouh Shoukri, President and Vice Chancellor, York University, began his opening address to the 4th annual Post-Secondary Education & Skills Summit of the Conference Board of Canada on November 30, 2016. He charged the audience to “challenge perceptions by changing ourselves”. Seeking to set the tone for the ensuing two days, President Shoukri spoke of innovation, emerging technologies, mission driven research, talent and entrepreneurship to an audience made up of researchers, students, academic administrators, government and advocacy organizations.

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche was there.

President Shoukri at Conference Board of Canada

President Shoukri spoke about “Beyond Citations: Knowledge Mobilization, ResearchImpact and the Changing Nature of Academic Work”, the Conference Board of Canada’s report on the ResearchImpact network, which we wrote about in this blog on October 25, 2016. That report called on Canada to go beyond narrowly construed notions of technology commercialization and industry liaison and also embrace knowledge mobilization to more fully contribute to inclusive concepts of innovation. The report concludes “Universities need to invest in institutional supports, such as dedicated knowledge brokers, for knowledge mobilization, as they currently do for technology transfer and industry liaison”.

President Shoukri referred to the ResearchImpact network as creating a culture of knowledge mobilization in Canada. He said, “As its name suggests, the ResearchImpact network has been working to build and advance Canada’s knowledge mobilization and research impact culture across all areas of university research, including humanities, social sciences and the arts, so that we are generating research that is of value to society, and so that our research is getting into the hands of policy-makers, practitioners and decision-makers. This is a new, people-centred approach to research that also complements research agendas that traditionally have focused exclusively on tech transfer and commercialization.”

President Shoukri ended with a snapshot of what success would look like. His vision included:

• “Research with social value or mission-driven research that complements research and development with the work of knowledge mobilization more broadly; and
• More university and college partnerships with governments, not-for-profits and civil society.”

He then invoked the concepts underpinning inclusive innovation by recognizing the key role of non-academic partners in mediating impacts of research and the interconnectedness of our campuses with the public, private and civil society sectors.

“For our teaching and research to be truly valuable to society, for our graduates to be ready for the workplace, colleges and universities must be integrated into our communities—with government, with industry, with civil society—rather than islands.

The government has traditionally regarded the three areas of: economic growth, social justice and environmental sustainability as separate, but is now recognizing, along with the rest of society, that a more integrated approach is more effective.

This represents a key opportunity and key role for colleges and universities.”

Knowledge mobilization enables inclusive innovation by creating the conditions for collaborations that will maximize the impacts of research on Canadians. That truly is a key opportunity for colleges and universities and even for Canada.

The full text of President Shoukri’s remarks can be found on his website.

Recapping the Top Five Most Popular Posts of 2016 / Résumé des 5 billets les plus populaire de 2016

Here’s a look at the top five most popular blog posts in 2016.

Revoici les cinq billets qui vous ont le plus intéressés.

#1 – 165 views

SSHRC Strategic Plan Sets the Stage for Knowledge Mobilization / Le Plan stratégique du CRSH met la table pour la mobilisation des connaissances

Congratulations SSHRC on a new strategic plan. Implementing this plan will help social sciences and humanities research have an impact on the lives of Canadians.

Toutes nos félicitations pour ce nouveau plan stratégique ! Grâce à lui, la recherche en sciences humaines et sociales aura encore plus d’impact sur la vie des Canadiens et des Canadiennes.

SSHRC strategic plan image

#2 – 154 views

The Co-Produced Pathway To Impact / La Trajectoire D’impact Codéterminée

York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit regularly publishes peer reviewed articles on various aspects of institutional knowledge mobilization. The most recent publication describes a pathway from research to impact that can be used by research organizations seeking to monitor their projects as they progress towards impact.

L’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de York produit régulièrement des articles scientifiques sur différents aspects de la mise en application du savoir universitaire. Sa publication la plus récente décrit un itinéraire permettant de passer de la recherche à l’impact, au moyen d’une démarche que les organismes de recherche peuvent employer pour superviser la progression de leurs projets vers l’impact souhaité.

CPPI from JCES

#3 – 110 views

The Who, What and How of Research Impact / L’impact de la recherche : le qui, le quoi et le comment

David Phipps has just returned from three weeks in the UK for his Fellowship funded by the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Working with his Fellowship partner, Julie Bayley (Coventry University), he became immersed in research impacts mediated through public engagement, commercialization, entrepreneurship, internationalization and knowledge exchange. This affords the opportunity for a trans-Atlantic comparison of the people who are creating and assessing the many impacts of research. You can help by participating in a survey to help us figure this out.

David Phipps rentre tout juste d’un voyage de trois semaines au Royaume-Uni, où il a avancé les travaux qu’il réalise à titre de boursier de l’Association of Commonwealth Universities. Avec sa partenaire de subvention, Julie Bayley (de la Coventry University), il s’est penché sur l’impact produit par l’engagement dans le domaine public, la commercialisation, l’entrepreneuriat, l’internationalisation et l’échange de connaissances.Cela ouvre la porte à une comparaison transatlantique des personnes qui créent et qui évaluent les multiples impacts de la recherche.Vous pouvez les aider à mettre de l’ordre dans tout cela en participant à un sondage.

Julie Bayley and David Phipps

Julie Bayley and David Phipps

#4 – 104 views

Critical Appraisal of Research Impact Pathways / Éloge critique des moyens d’amplifier l’impact de la recherche

The National Institute for Health Research (UK) and the Association of Medical Research Charities held an impact forum on April 27, 2016. We were invited to kick at some of the popular impact pathways by asking five critical questions.

Deux établissements britanniques, le National Institute for Health Research et l’Association of Medical Research Charities, organisaient un forum sur l’impact de la recherche, le 27 avril dernier. Nous avions été invités à poser cinq questions délicates afin de déboulonner les moyens populaires de mettre la recherche en action.

Pic of presentation slide

#5 – 81 views

Knowledge Mobilization, Research Impact, and the Changing Nature of Academic Work / La mobilisation des connaissances, l’impact de la recherche et la nature changeante du travail universitaire

That’s the title of a research article written by Matthew McKean, Conference Board of Canada. The article reviews the ResearchImpact network and the emerging importance of knowledge mobilization in Canada’s academic research enterprise and Canada’s inclusive innovation agenda.

Voilà le titre d’un article de fond publié par Matthew McKean, du Conference Board du Canada. L’auteur examine le Réseau Impact Recherche et l’importance de plus en plus affirmée de la mobilisation des connaissances, dans la conduite de la recherche universitaire au Canada comme dans le programme d’innovation inclusif que le pays s’est donné.

Conference Board of Canada logo

Merry Mobilizing!

Merry Mobilizing 2016

Merry Mobilizing from the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York University!

From left to right:

David Phipps, Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services

Sarah Howe, Director, Innovation York

Rebecca Giblon, Research Translation Assistant

Krista Jensen, Knowledge Mobilization Officer

Meghan Terry, Design Communications Assistant

Michael Johnny, Manager, Knowledge Mobilization

Anneliese Poetz, Manager, NeuroDevNet KT Core

Stacie Ross, KT Assistant, NeuroDevNet KT Core

The ResearchImpact Network – What’s in It for You? / Le Réseau Impact Recherche – qu’avez-vous à y gagner ?

A few universities are considering joining the ResearchImpact network. I was asked recently to identify what a university might get for its annual membership fee of $5,000. Essentially, what is the value proposition for membership?

Quelques universités songent à se joindre au Réseau Impact Recherche. On m’a demandé récemment ce qu’une université membre pouvait attendre de son adhésion annuelle, au cout de 5 000 $. En clair : quelle est la proposition de valeur du Réseau ?

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) is Canada’s knowledge mobilization network with 12 universities from St. John’s to Victoria all investing in their own knowledge mobilization and related activities and all investing $5,000 annually to fund network operations. While we do not have an active recruitment drive we are always interested in speaking to universities who wish to learn from our diverse practices and contribute to the network so we can all grow our skills. What’s in it for you?

Part of the value proposition is articulated in our Strategic Plan.

Mission
• We build Canada’s capacity to be a leader in knowledge mobilization by developing and sharing best practices, services and tools, and by demonstrating to relevant stakeholders and the public the positive impacts of mobilizing knowledge.

Vision
• We will maximize the impact of university research for the social, cultural, economic, environmental, and health benefits across local and global communities.

Values
• We believe that academic research contributes to social, cultural, economic, environmental, and health benefits across local and global communities.
• We believe that the university research enterprise encompasses research, scholarship and creative activity by faculty, students and staff across all disciplines.
• We value community, industry and government partners as active participants in conducting research.
• We believe that knowledge mobilization services reflect the capacity and opportunities of institutional members.

Essentially we are a community of practice of institutional knowledge mobilizers all with different skills using different tools with different mandates in different organizational constructs. See the figure below that summarizes this diversity

RIR Unit service models

It is this diversity that is the value proposition. You will learn from other universities to bolster your own practice and help maximize the impacts of your research. Some examples of our practices – there are more:

• Memorial Univesity: Strong focus on public engagement; use of yaffle.ca as a tool for knowledge brokering
• University of New Brunswick: Social Policy Research Network with a focus on knowledge mobilization to inform provincial policy
• Université du Québec à Montréal: Services aux Collectivitées – a community based knowledge brokering function
• Carleton Univesity: 1125 @ Carleton is a Living Lab model
• York University: Central Office of Research Services model including support for knowledge mobilization strategies in grant applications; research impact assessment
• University of Guelph: Research Shop model
• Kwantlen Polytechnic University: Service learning model
• University of Victoria: Research partnership model

Your $5,000 buys you access into these different practices so you can take from the network what fits in your context.

We believe that knowledge mobilization helps universities participate more fully in the federal government’s emerging innovation agenda which is being drafted around the core concept of inclusive innovation. We can more fully participate in inclusive innovation by connecting research in all disciplines to partners from all sectors (public, private and non-profit) to create impacts on local and global citizens. RIR is the only network in the world focused on institutional knowledge mobilization to maximize the impacts of academic research.

Membership has its privileges.

For more information about please email info@researchimpact.ca or email me directly at dphipps@yorku.ca.

How Can Universities Contribute to Inclusive Innovation? / Comment les universités contribuent-elles à l’innovation solidaire?

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) worked with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and 16 other universities and stakeholders to draft a letter to Ministers Bains, Chagger and Duncan outlining how universities can contribute to Canada’s innovation strategy which is increasingly being described as “inclusive innovation”.

Le RéseauImpactRecherche-ResearchImpact (RIR), en collaboration avec la Fondation de la famille J.W. McConnell et 16 autres universités et intervenants, a rédigé une lettre destinée aux ministres Bains, Chagger et Duncan pour expliquer comment les universités peuvent contribuer à la stratégie du Canada en matière d’innovation, de plus en plus souvent qualifiée d’« innovation solidaire ».

The letter in response to “Positioning Canada to Lead: An Inclusive Innovation Agenda” is posted on the RECODE section of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation website. The letter describes the opportunity facing Canada. It states, “Innovation is key to human development. It is imperative to move beyond innovation for innovation’s sake to purposeful innovation that contributes socially and economically while also creating positive and / or reducing negative impacts on our natural resources. The term “inclusive growth” refers to an important and insufficiently acknowledged economic opportunity.”

The letter outlines some ideas for policy, program and talent opportunities that serve as a starting point for conversations with government. There are also examples, including RIR, appended to the letter. Some ideas directly relevant to RIR were present in all three categories:

Policy Ideas (this describes knowledge brokering, a major role for RIR)

• Expanding support for multi-disciplinary and cross-sector solutions-generating collaboration platforms as core features of the innovation ecosystem; as the Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences said it is necessary to “bring researchers from different disciplines together with leaders in all levels of government, the private sector and civil society…”. There is a diverse and growing spectrum of collaboration platforms, including change and social innovation labs.

Program Ideas (this describes the RIR network)

• Creating incentives for regional and national platforms/networks for campus community collaboration and holding those platforms to account for short-term (three-year) outcomes that will generate long term (5-10 year) economic, social and environmental impacts.

Talent Ideas (this describes service learning and graduate student internships, key knowledge mobilization methods)

• Support co-ops and work-integrated learning programs in all academic faculties (not just business) to help students build the skills and experience required to enter the work force. Include all types of businesses from SMEs and non-profits to multi-national corporations in these programs.

RIR continues the discussion with McConnell and the other stakeholders to further develop these policy, program and talent ideas in order to trigger a substantive discussion with government. As identified by the Conference Board of Canada universities need to diversify beyond narrowly construed notions of technology transfer and commercialization if they are to contribute fully to an inclusive innovation agenda. This diversification includes experiential learning for undergraduate and graduate students as well as knowledge mobilization connecting all disciplines to partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors.

The letter had 18 signatories including the Presidents of RIR members York University, University of Guelph, University of New Brunswick, as well as representatives from RIR members University of Victoria, Wilfrid Laurier University, and David Phipps signing as the RIR Network Director.

Building an impact literate research culture: Some thoughts for the KT Australia Research Summit

This week’s guest post is from Julie Bayley, Coventry University. It was originally published on her blog on November 12, 2016 and is reposted here with permission.

Julie BayleyI was delighted to be asked to speak at the KT Australia Research Impact Summit (November 2016). In my talk, I discussed many of the challenges of introducing an impact agenda into the academic community, and how impact literacy can help. An extended version of my slides are here, but let me talk through the key points below.

Consider impact. A small word. A simple, standard part of our vocabulary meaning influence or effect. But go from (small i) impact to (big I) Impact, and you’ve suddenly entered the domain of formal assessment and causal expectations. Arguably the UK have been the first to really take the Impact bull formally by the horns through the Research Assessment Framework 2014, but of course efforts to drive research into usable practice are far from unique to this little island. Whilst every country is rich with learning about how knowledge best mobilises within its own context, the UK probably offers a unique insight into the realities of impact assessment at scale and the multiple, non-prescribable pathways connecting research to effect.

First principles: impact is the provable effects of research in the real world (see slides 2 and 3). It’s the changes we can see (demonstrate, measure, capture), beyond academia (in society, economy, environment) which happen because of our studies (caused by, contributed to, attributable to). Dissemination, communication, engagement, knowledge transfer, knowledge exchange and knowledge mobilisation are all vital in getting research into practice, but in its truest form, ‘impact’ is the protected description of the resulting change.

Largely speaking, impact has three main drivers (slide 4): funders (who increasingly require impact plans for research to be judged competitively), centralised assessment (eg the Research Excellence Framework, UK) and the individual academic’s commitment to social, economic or environmental change. Formal sector expectations such as the REF are a double edged sword. On one side they legitimate engagement and outreach activities which can be disregarded in income/publication focused environments. On the other however, they can confer unrealistic expectations on those disciplinary areas (eg. fundamental research) whose work does not naturally connect directly to ‘real world change’. Even where academics are personally committed to impact, the weight of complying with assessment rhetoric can corrode even the most impassioned resolve.

Impact offers challenges to academics and the institution alike (slide 5). For the academic, weaving impact into already pressured environments can be exhausting, and the unease of meeting expectations for impacts that are ‘significant’ enough for external assessment can trigger anxiety and anger. For the institution, staffing, resourcing and embedding impact within existing structures whilst ensuring assessment requirements are met is extremely tough. Similarly we must remember and address the challenges for the beneficiaries themselves. The ‘users’ of our work are concerned with how well the research fits their needs, and how accessible and useful it is. Unless work is appropriate and suitable for the audience, it’s unlikely to achieve its impact aims and will just introduce more burden into the user community.

So how can we do impact well? After several years in impact I’ve enjoyed/ burned my fingers on a considerable volume of training, planning/strategy building, designing information management systems and building impact into a university culture, alongside academic research in the area and (health psychology) research submitted to REF. It’s hard to disentangle the discrete elements of the impact process, which probably explains why I’ve had my fingers in quite so many pies. I have discussed the challenges still facing the impact community before, and how a reductionist, assessment driven approach can lead to impact short-sightedness. However, academics have an amazing and very privileged opportunity to make a genuine and meaningful difference to the ‘real world’. For this, the research community needs to understand how to make impact happen. The research community needs to be impact literate.

Impact literacy (slide 6, a term coined by myself and Dr David Phipps, York University, Toronto) describes individuals’ ability to understand, appraise and make decisions with regards to impact. Impact literacy involves understanding how the what (type, indicators and evidence of benefit), how (activities and engagement processes) and who (individuals’ skills and roles) of impact combine to produce effects. Impact literacy supports good decision making, clear planning and realistic methodologies. Impact can be pursued without being literate, but this is likely to lead to poor execution, missed opportunities, poor resource use and misaligned or underachieved targets. A person is only literate if they understand each of the three areas. If one is missing, thinking is incomplete:

    How + Who (without What) gives poor consideration to endpoints/effects
    How + What (without Who) neglects the importance of individual efforts and skills
    Who + What (without How) overlooks the need for appropriate engagement methods

We can and should also extend literacy beyond the individual and build an impact literate research culture (slide 7). With all the challenges to delivering impact within a pressured academic environment, it’s essential that institutions align their internal structures to supporting delivery. Bluntly put, you can only measure what you create, so start working together from the start. Academics need to build partnerships and translate research into suitable formats, whilst the institution values, resources and builds strategic connections beyond the institution (‘How’). Academics and research managers also need to recognise their own skills/training needs, and share/partner with others, whilst the institution must commit to professional development and clarifying roles (‘Who’). Academics must work with end-users to establish suitable goals and ways to measure them, whilst the institution must offer the strategic and systems support to manage this information (‘What’).

The process of building a positive and impact-literate culture is of course beyond the scope of one talk. It is an ongoing process and takes continued strategic and individual commitment. But if we really want impact, and good impact at that, we must focus on improving the knowledge, skills and confidence of academics and research managers across the institution. An impact literate culture is one in which people know what’s needed and how they contribute. A positive culture is one in which they know that contribution is valued.

So if you’re trying to build impact into your institution, my top tips would be (slide 8):

    Embed impact into the research process. If you’re going to create real benefits, impact has to be integrated from the start and not treated as a post-project add-on.
    Recognise one size doesn’t fit all. Impact cannot be templated. It is always unique to the project, discipline and it’s place along the fundamental-to-applied continuum. Tailor your thinking.
    Harness and build skills within the institution. Create your ‘impact agency’ by developing impact literacy, competencies and connections between colleagues.
    Engage not enrage. Impact is a small word with big implications. Give people time to adjust and build a strong approach together.

Remember (slide 9): Impact is achievable. But it’s not simple. Value the people involved and their efforts, support the processes and connect researchers, users and research meaningfully. Just imagine what’s possible if you do 🙂

Certificate in Knowledge Mobilization

Certificate in knowledge mobilization

As of January 2017, the University of Guelph’s Certificate in Knowledge Mobilization will be offered entirely online. Through three eight-week courses, the program helps participants develop new skills and use various techniques to help turn knowledge into action.

Turning Knowledge into Action
Promotional Early Bird Fee offered until November 25, 2016.
Register today at www.knowledgemobilization.ca

The program

The Certificate in Knowledge Mobilization builds capacity for the transformation of knowledge into action. Participants will learn to identify and address barriers to knowledge mobilization, transfer or exchange, and use tools and techniques to facilitate the development of evidence-informed policy and practice.

The program consists of three online courses:

1. Inform: Processes of knowledge translation and dissemination (January 23 to March 19, 2017)
2. Engage: Building capacity to understand and use relevant evidence (September 18 to November 12, 2017)
3. Act: Transforming knowledge into action (January 22 to March 18, 2018)

Who should participate?

The certificate is targeted towards KMb practitioners, researchers, policy-makers and service providers working in the social sciences, human services and health sectors. We also welcome graduate students interested in building KMb skills or planning to work in one of these fields.

Instructors

The courses will be taught by experienced instructors and knowledge brokers:
Anne Bergen, Ph.D., Director, Knowledge to Action Consulting
Travis Sztainert, Ph.D., Knowledge Broker and Content Specialist at Gambling Research Exchange Ontario

For more information, visit us at www.knowledgemobilization.ca.

Day 1 – Blueprint: Affordable Housing

This guest post first appeared on ventureLAB’s blog on October 19, 2016 and is reposted here with permission.

communityBUILD Design Lab brings out passion and fierce competition for the best solutions that address affordable housing

communitybuild1On October 15, 2016 over one hundred high school students, post-secondary students, housing experts, entrepreneurs, designers, advocates and educators gathered at Seneca College, Markham Campus for Blueprint: Affordable Housing, a two-day design lab that works towards solutions to create affordable housing, an issue that affects many communities across Canada.

It would be an understatement to say that this was a significant step forward to solving this ever-persistent issue. There was tangible passion and energy in the room throughout day one, from participants, facilitators, data analysts and design thinkers. It was clear that creating solutions for affordable housing was a passion for all who attended.

The goal of Blueprint: Affordable Housing is to generate solutions from York Region residents and organizations, in an effort to solve the global issue. On day two, on October 22nd , the top three ideas will be selected to participate in a three month incubator, provided by the communityBUILD program within ventureLAB.

Last Saturday, participants were taken through a series of design thinking exercises by Kelly Parke and Jennifer Chan, that would help inform solutions for the three challenges posed by the champion organizations, The Regional Municipality of York, Evergreen (GTA Housing Action Labs) and The Ontario Ministry of Housing. Each champion organization presented their challenges at the beginning of the day and participants were placed in to 13 teams to begin working on their ideas for solutions.

communityBUILD participantsFacilitators and data analysts assisted each team with solution development, and representatives from each champion organization provided additional insight into each challenge. Participants worked together to develop plans and strategies until 4:00 p.m., when teams left for the day. Before the day concluded, teams exchanged contact information and created DropBox accounts to work throughout the week on their solutions.

On October 22, 2016 participants will return for another full day of design thinking and solution development for their assigned challenges. Teams will be treated to a keynote presentation by Neil Hetherington, CEO of Dixon Hall in the morning, and in the afternoon they will present their solutions to the judges who will select three ideas to move forward in the communityBUILD incubator.

If day one was any indication, there will be some fierce competition this coming Saturday! Stay tuned to hear the results next week.

Blueprint supportersHuge thanks to our sponsors, including The Regional Municipality of York, Ontario Centres of Excellence, the Ontario Ministry of Housing, Evergreen, TranQuant and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation who supported the event.

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

KMb at York 2015-2016 Annual Report Released / L’Unité de MdC de l’Université York rapport annuel pour 2015-2016

KMb at York has completed it’s Annual Report for 2015-16. The report highlights current services and recent successes and this report shared reflections on 10 years of KMb services at York University.

L’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de l’Université York vient de terminer son rapport annuel pour 2015-2016. Ce rapport met en lumière les services offerts actuellement et les réussites les plus récentes, et propose une réflexion sur dix années de MdC à York.

2015-2016-kmb-at-yorku-annual-report-coverYou won’t have to look far to notice a central overarching theme to our Annual Report, which is recently completed and can be accessed here. The title page reflects a new logo we shared to reflect the 10 year anniversary of KMb Unit services and support at York U and for York Region and the entire Greater Toronto Area.

This 16 page report highlights our services, activities, partnerships and accomplishments over the past year and since 2006. The feature story is the success of the York Region Food Network (YRFN). Our engagement with YRFN has been more a tapestry of research engagement in areas of policy such as their Food Charter leadership as well as areas of programming such as their Aquaponics lab. Dr. Rod MacRae from the Faculty of Environmental Studies has provided oversight and engagement over this relationship and for a true grassroots organization it is great to see the significant impact YRFN is having in the Region.

The report also provides readers a two-page infographic which takes them along a timeline of development and accomplishment for the KMb Unit. Partnerships, staff hiring and service milestones are all represented in this great visual look back over time. The leadership of KMb at York is reflected well in this work developed by our Data and Communications Student, Meghan Terry.
Meghan is also the feature of our annual Student Profile.

Students play a very important role in support the work of the KMb Unit and with two students working regularly in our office (also working with Meghan is Rebecca Giblon as a Research Translation Assistant). Over the years students have been involved in many key operational developments, including this annual report. Our commitment to train and support students in areas of KMb is something we are very proud of.

Annual reports provide a good opportunity to reflect, gather data and information and help plan moving forward. And while we’re hopeful to share an Annual Report in 2025-2026 to reflect our 20th anniversary we acknowledge that year over year the growth, development and refinement of our service unit is important to capture, share and showcase. So we will focus on this 11th year of engaging our researchers and their partners outside the university in an effort to help research inform important areas of public policy and professional practice.

Lastly, 2016-2017 will see the KMb Unit formally move within the Innovation York office. This move will situate all innovation services for research in one office. We’re excited for the opportunities which we feel will strengthen our capacity to provide quality services.

Thank you for 10 years of support!

Knowledge Mobilization, Research Impact, and the Changing Nature of Academic Work / La mobilisation des connaissances, l’impact de la recherche et la nature changeante du travail universitaire

That’s the title of a research article written by Matthew McKean, Conference Board of Canada. The article reviews the ResearchImpact network and the emerging importance of knowledge mobilization in Canada’s academic research enterprise and Canada’s inclusive innovation agenda.

Voilà le titre d’un article de fond publié par Matthew McKean, du Conference Board du Canada. L’auteur examine le Réseau Impact Recherche et l’importance de plus en plus affirmée de la mobilisation des connaissances, dans la conduite de la recherche universitaire au Canada comme dans le programme d’innovation inclusif que le pays s’est donné.

Conference Board of Canada logo

According to their website the Conference Board of Canada is the foremost independent, evidence-based, not-for-profit applied research organization in Canada. They are dedicated to building a better future for Canadians by making our economy and society more dynamic and competitive. They have decided that a more dynamic and competitive Canadian economy and society needs knowledge mobilization. And knowledge mobilization needs ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR), Canada’s knowledge mobilization network.

The article (available for free download here) describes the changing nature of academic work making the case that bibliometric citations are no longer sufficient to capture the diverse impacts of academic research. This is seen most keenly in research grant applications most of which now require some form of impact statement (what impact will arise) and knowledge mobilization plan (how you’re going to get there). The article cites literature and interviews with researchers and knowledge mobilization practitioners (including myself and RIR brokers Bojan Fürst from Memorial University and Cathy Edwards from Carleton University).

The paper is summarized in four points “at a glance”:

– “Universities need to invest in institutional supports, such as dedicated knowledge brokers, for knowledge mobilization, as they currently do for technology transfer and industry liaison

– University-based researchers would benefit from faculty evaluation criteria that incentivizes high-impact, interdisciplinary social, economic, environmental, cultural, and health research

– The Pan-Canadian ResearchImpact network supports and facilitates knowledge mobilization and collaboration among faculty and student researchers, as well as community, industry, and government partners

– A network approach reduces the barriers between disciplines and enhances collaboration supporting research impacts in communities across Canada”

Importantly, the paper makes the point that knowledge mobilization activities complement traditional commercialization and industry liaison activities. This is important because universities beyond the 12 RIR campuses are not making efforts to maximize the contributions of research to Canada’s economic, social or environmental progress.

All our universities have services that help researchers connect to industry and to commercial markets but they only serve those few disciplines aligned to commercial outcomes. Many of our researchers in social sciences, humanities, creative arts and many STEM disciplines will never work with industry, file a patent or start up a company but their research might be relevant to public policy, professional practice or social services. If we rely solely on traditional methods of commercialization and industry liaison we will fail to maximize the impacts of much academic research. We will fail to contribute to what Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada is calling inclusive innovation.

ISED states that “Innovation is the path to inclusive growth. It fosters a thriving middle class and opens the country to new economic, social and environmental possibilities” and that everyone has a role to play. “This collaborative approach is essential because every sector of society—from the business community to universities and colleges, the not-for-profit sector, social entrepreneurs and Indigenous business leaders—pulls some of the levers that drive innovation, growth and well-being.”

Be prepared to hear a lot more about inclusive innovation as the current review of Canada’s innovation agenda concludes and begins to report out to Canadians.

That’s what makes this report from the Conference Board of Canada timely. Academic research institutions can contribute to an inclusive innovation agenda by adopting knowledge mobilization practices as well as traditional supports for commercialization and industry liaison.

Big thanks to Matthew McKean for researching and writing the article. Thanks also to knowledge mobilization colleagues Peter Levesque (Institute for Knowledge Mobilization) and Purnima Sundar (Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health) who provided a critical review of the manuscript for Matthew.