“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.

York Community Data Sharing Symposium II

The KM Unit at York University is pleased to be co-hosting the second York Community Data Sharing Symposium being held on Thursday, June 4 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

York Community Data Sharing Symposium II

The second in a series of sessions highlighting the power of data to strengthen the capacity of York Region’s human service agencies.

How an Electronic Commons Can Help Us Tackle Poverty in York Region

Thursday, June 4, 2009
10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m

Morning Session
How the emergence of the “electronic commons” will help agencies and organizations share data and information?
How can new ways of information-sharing change the way people talk to each other?
How to use the web to create more options for mobilizing action among and within communities?

Afternoon Session
How can we transfer our knowledge to interactive discussions about efforts to address poverty in York Region?
How can we use new information-sharing tools to change the ways we collectively tackle poverty in York Region?

Guest Speakers, Panellists and Interactive Group Discussion
At the end of the day, you will have a better understanding of new and upcoming web-based social networking technologies and how they can be used to share information and knowledge to better serve the needs of children, youth and families in York Region.

Read More

ResearchImpact Hosts KM Session for Research Administrators

For the third year in a row ResearchImpact hosted a session on knowledge mobilization for the annual national meeting of the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (CAURA).  The session was held on May 25 in Ottawa and featured presentations by Craig McNaughton (SSHRC), David Yetman (Harris Centre, MUN), Michael Johnny (ResearchImpact, York), Fiona Haynes (USask) and Laura Milne (ResearchImpact, UVic).

KM @ CAURA 2009

Michael Johnny (York) at the Poster Session

Craig gave an overview of KM for Canada, at least form SSHRC’s perspective, which was followed by brief overviews of KM services at each university.  The group broke into a poster session where the audience was able to meet each knowledge broker one on one.  The group then reconvened for a Q&A with questions from David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York) and from the audience.  As a strong indicator of the growing interest in KM as a service to researchers and their communities, the group continued with Q&A for 50 minutes and could have continued going had the session not ended. Interesting questions and more interesting discussion included the role of evaluation (despite the lack of it), the need to engage people as well as organizations as well as the importance of the relationship between the KM function and the Office of Research Services.

ResearchImpact is also hosting a knowledge mobilization exhibit at CAURA for the second year in a row.  More and more research service offices are being asked to support grant applications with complex demands for knowledge mobilization strategies.  Building a broad institutional capacity for knowledge mobilization as York and UVic have done is one way that universities can support research grant applications in an increasingly competitive environment.

KM @ CAURA 2009

Panelists l-r: Laura Milne (UVic), Fiona Haynes (USask), Michael Johnny (York), Craig McNaughton (SSHRC) and David Yetman (MUN)

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

Personal Reflections on the ‘Hidden in Plain Sight: Living Homeless in York Region’ Photovoice Exhibit at YorkU – April 27 to May 1, 2009

The York Region Alliance to End Homelessness (YREAH) was formed in 1999 as concerns about homelessness were emerging in our communities. “The Alliance is a coalition of social service agencies, faith groups, interested community members and government representatives that meets regularly to understand, plan and coordinate services and supports related to homelessness in York Region”. What underlies this statement is an incredible, tireless commitment to support this work. I have had the pleasure of working with this agency as a knowledge broker at York University. The emergence of a KM unit at York in 2006 provided opportunity for this agency to seek opportunities to bolster its limited capacity to perform its work. In the summer of 2008, KM Intern Jennifer Logan (MA Candidate, Geography) worked for the Alliance to lead a Photovoice project that captured the images and voices of York Region’s homeless population. The primary goal of the project was to develop a resource to help raise the awareness of homelessness issues in York Region in helping advance policies and practices for homelessness in York Region.

I was able to visit the exhibit here at York on the afternoon of April 30 and I was the only visitor in the gallery at the time. The pictures tell stories that statistics simply cannot. Seeing those images took me back to my work in adult literacy where each person I worked with had a story to tell. The stories were not always pleasant (although some were) and unfortunately reflected a daily reality of struggle and perseverance. The images I saw brought many of the stories from my early career back to life, in a moving and extremely powerful way. I recall a quotation from Joseph Stalin that has stuck with me, “One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic.” The exhibit I saw helped me to remember we are not dealing with numbers or statistics here, but with people. These people are part of our community.

I applaud Jennifer and YREAH for their work in giving voice to people who are not always given changes to tell their stories. The stories in that room have helped me to reflect on the importance of my work and I am grateful for that lesson!

Open for Ideas Means Open for Business and Fosters Social Innovation

Ok, so it’s an older article but few have yet to seriously adopt open collaboration and innovation. In 2006 Huston and Sakkab wrote about Procter and Gamble’s (P&G’s) Connect & Develop (Harvard Business Review, page 58-66, March 2006). In contrast to the typical pharmaceutical proprietary model of in house R&D, P&G piloted a novel concept called Connect & Develop which presented R&D challenges to outside entrepreneurs and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who then develop novel solutions to the P&G’s innovation challenges.

“The model works. Today, more than 35% of our new products in market have elements that originated from outside P&G, up from about 15% in 2000.” These new ideas came from a variety of sources such as proprietary networks but also from open networks such as Nine Sigma, InnoCentive (founded by Ely Lilly), YourEncore (kind of like a technological Handy Man Connection) and Yet2.com (an online marketplace for intellectual property exchange).

Lessons Learned for KM:
– “Never assume that ‘ready to go’ ideas found outside are truly ready to go. There will always be development work to do” – work with your partners to adapt research to new learning and policy environments
– “Don’t underestimate the internal resources required. You’ll need a full-time, senior executive to run any connect-and-develop initiative” – while knowledge brokers support social innovation by connecting research to practice you need support and buy in from senior management
– “Never launch without a mandate from the CEO. Connect and develop cannot succeed if it’s cordoned off in R&D. It must be a top-down, companywide strategy” – knowledge mobilization must be an institutional priority not just a value permeating a handful of community-university projects.

ResearchImpact defines social innovation as the creation or application of research and knowledge to develop sustainable solutions to social, environmental and cultural challenges. Social Innovation results in more efficient and effective human services, more responsive public policies and a greater cultural understanding. As P&G learned to open its doors to outside innovation so universities, community organizations, government agencies, granting councils and Foundations must embrace a culture of openness and collaboration in order to realize the benefits of social innovation. Working through knowledge brokers who foster a culture of openness and collaboration, knowledge mobilization is the means to social innovation.

David Yetman of the Harris Centre, MUN at YorkU – May 12

David Yetman

The KM Unit at York hosted a talk on Tuesday May 12 as part of our KM Speaker Series.  David Yetman is the Manager of Knowledge Mobilization at the Leslie Harris Centre with Memorial University in St. Johns, NL and spoke about Memorial’s experiences with KM.  He also demonstrated Yaffle a new research search engine designed to support knowledge co-production in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Information on KM activity at Memorial University can be found on their web site.

David has been managing the KM Unit at Memorial since 2004 and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. within the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial.  His area of study is KM and this provides Memorial with a strong theoretical understanding of KM in addition to David’s operational experience and leadership in this area.

The audience included York staff, researchers and administrators along with guests from York Region, the University of Toronto and the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.

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.

Not Business as Usual: A Forum on Infrastructure Climate Change Adaptation – April 30

On April 30, the Toronto Urban Climate Change Network (TUCCN) hosted a full day event focusing on infrastructure and climate change adaptation held at the historic St. Lawrence Hall in downtown Toronto. TUCCN member YorkU was one of the sponsors for the event and ResearchImpact was there along with several other YorkU faculty members and students. The day was made up of keynote speeches, panel discussions and facilitated break-out sessions. Some of the speakers included representatives from Environment Canada, the Toronto Environment Office (TEO), the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Pollution Probe, as well as Adam Freed, Senior Policy Advisor for Climate Change Adaptation in New York City and Joyce Coffee, Director of Project Development with the Chicago Department of the Environment.

Mayor David Miller

Mayor David Miller

Toronto Mayor David Miller also spoke and outlined some of the climate change adaptation plans the City of Toronto is currently working on. One that I found particularly interesting is the plan to reclad the hundreds of concrete high-rises around the city in order to improve their insulation value. Recladding these buildings would cut our regions greenhouse gas emissions by 3-4%. Mayor Miller also spoke strongly about the need for the city to work collaboratively with planners, researchers, engineers and other climate change experts to tackle this problem. In the past, infrastructure planning has been done using historic climate data but with the climate changes we are presently experiencing, making plans based on 100 year old data is not going to be useful for planning for the future. We need to be working together with the latest future focused information. I think Mayor Miller is spot on with this thinking and it was great to see that this idea was reflected in the mix of attendees.

For more information about TUCCN and upcoming events, visit their web site at www.tuccn.org.

TUCCN Members

TUCCN Members

Social Inclusion for Health and Well Being in Program Evaluation – Thursday, April 30

The York Institute of Health Research led a dynamic and participatory conference that drew a capacity audience of almost 100 registrants. Supported by the Ministry of Research and Innvoaiton and York University, YIHR is home to an emerging Evaluation Unit that will be offering evaluation services and capacity building. The KM Unit at York was invited to prepare a poster presentation demonstrating its capacity to support program evaluation and social inclusion collaboration via the knowledge broker model. There were a number of conversations that ensued and there was much interest and curiosity from many participants who were not familiar with knowledge mobilization or the capacity that York has built to support KM. Conference organizers were successful in bringing together numerous presenters who shared their experiences and beliefs for social inclusion that promote health and wellness. Program evaluation is important to ensure that programs are aligned to achieve these objectives. Keynote presenter, Daniele Zanotti of the United Way of York Region, summarized the day well with this comment, “This work is the essential ingredient to get communities working together”. Following a morning of panel presentations participants were able to engage in workshops led by university researchers and their community collaborators.

People are invited to visit the YIHR web site for more information on the conference, including copies of all poster presentations and PowerPoint presentations from panel presenters.

Social Inclusion and Program Evaluation Models to Support Social Innovation

Social Inclusion and Program Evaluation Models to Support Social Innovation

YorkU KM in the AM – Immigration and Human Services – Tuesday April 28

Stephen Lam

Stephen Lam

Stephen Lam Director of Immigrant Services and Community Programs with Catholic Community Services of York Region and Dr. Valerie Preston a Professor with the Department of Geography at York University were the speakers at York’s most recent KM in the AM event, held at the Police Headquarters Community Room in Vaughn. Twenty people were present to participate in the forum that brings together university researchers and non-academic leaders to explore issues and opportunities relating to Immigration and Human Services in York Region.

Stephen Lam provided a comprehensive overview of the issues from a local perspective, utilizing a SWOT approach (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) to position these issues. His experiences serving as a member of the Human Services Planning Coalition, as well as supporting the development of the Welcome Centre, provided the complexity of supporting the extensive Immigrant community via Human Services provision.

Valerie Preston

Valerie Preston

Professor Valerie Preston is a resident of York Region and is a Principal Investigator on a York Infrastructure Project, which is examining immigrant experiences with regard to housing and human services utilizing recent census data and geographic information system (GIS) technology. Prof. Preston shared statistics and findings from her studies to provide an overview of the issues for immigrant housing in York Region, along with overarching challenges for supporting the immigrant population in York Region. She is also Director of The Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS).

The discussion which followed was highly engaging and provided everyone with the opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences. Given the interest and discussion, York’s KM Unit will revisit this topic, as we aim to provide space for research and knowledge-based collaborative development. Thank you to all who attended and to Valerie and Stephen for their valuable contributions that helped to create and sustain the dialogue.

KM, KMb, KT, the other KT, KTE… now consider KI

OK, so we didn’t see it when it came out last year but Sandra Nutley and her team (including Huw Davies and Isabel Walter) associated with the University of Edinburgh’s Research Unit for Research Utilization published another excellent article on KM. They published “Why ‘knowledge transfer’ is misconceived for applied social research” in the Journal of Health Services, Research & Policy (Vol 13 No 3, 2008: 188–190). As leaders in the theory of research utilization, Sandra and her team point out why terms such as knowledge transfer and knowledge translation under represent the complexities and iterative nature of most strategies aimed at facilitating or enhancing research utilization. Such terms privilege “scientific” knowledge and marginalize other forms of knowledge and ways of knowing. They also ignore the frequent need for un-learning as part of the research utilization process. As an alternative they suggest:

“While any term is likely to open itself up to fresh critique, we suggest that ‘knowledge interaction’ might more appropriately describe the messy engagement of multiple players with diverse sources of knowledge. We also suggest that ‘knowledge intermediation’ begins to articulate some of the managed processes by which knowledge interaction is promoted.”

KM isn’t mentioned and we use it to describe a suite of services that enhances the two-way connection between researchers and research users so that research and evidence can inform decisions about public policy and professional practice. KM encompasses methods of knowledge transfer, translation and exchange and extends them to include the co-production of knowledge. This managed process could be described as knowledge intermediation…or knowledge mobilization…

Whatever we call it, it is clear that the communities engaged in such practices are growing and over time we are confident we will coalesce around a term or terms on which there is substantial agreement. Until then such dialogues are interesting but we know what we mean and know it when we see it so as practitioners, let’s get on and “just do it”.

YorkU to host David Yetman of the Harris Centre, MUN on May 12

The KM Unit at York is hosting a talk on Tuesday May 12 and all are invited. David Yetman is the Manager of Knowledge Mobilization at the Leslie Harris Centre with Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. Johns. David will speak about Memorial’s experiences with KM and will demonstrate a new research search engine designed to support knowledge co-production in Newfoundland and Labrador. Information on KM activity at Memorial University can be found on their web site.

David has been managing the KM Unit at Memorial since 2004 and is also currently pursuing a Ph.D. within the Faculty of Medicine. His area of study is KM and will provide a rich theoretical background in addition to this operational experience and leadership in this area.

The event is taking place from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. in York Lanes 280. Space is limited and people are requested to RSVP to kejensen@yorku.ca. See the poster below for more details.

David Yetman May 12, 2009