Scholarship in action: Knowledge mobilization and the academic process

KM and practice of connecting academic research with the Canadian public was the topic of a recent article in Dialogue, an online publication produced by SSHRC, featuring ResearchImpact’s own David Phipps:

“Knowledge mobilization is not new to researchers,” says David Phipps, who is the director of the office of research services at York University and whose work is funded in part through a SSHRC Knowledge Impact in Society grant. “What’s new is that we’re developing the institutional capacity to support these activities.” Read the full article…

Knowledge Mobilization and Technology Transfer– chapter 1

Every public research institution in the country has a technology transfer (TT) office or is a member in a technology commercialization network that provides services (commercialization, due diligence, patenting, licensing and company creation) to researchers seeking to connect their research with the private sector to bring new products and services to the benefit of consumers. Knowledge mobilization is a novel service being offered by York and UVic to researchers seeking to connect their research to research users so that academic research can inform decisions about public policy and professional practice. KM is often referred to as a service analogous to technology transfer. While there may be analogies the two services are sufficiently different to warrant critical separation of the two concepts. In a series of brief blog postings, ResearchImpact will differentiate the services offered by technology transfer and knowledge mobilization.

Let’s start with the similarities- KM and TT managers both act as brokers between research/researchers and research users. The audiences may differ (TT speaks primarily to the private sector and KM to the public and voluntary sectors) but the role of brokering relationships between the academy and non-academic audiences is similar. The TT and the KM manager seek “receptors” for academic research (in part) through a producer push methodology [see John Lavis, Suzanne Ross, Christopher McLeod and Alina Gildner (2003) Measuring the impact of health research: assessment and accountability in the health sector. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy 8(3): 165–170] and seek to forge sustainable relationships between researchers and research users; however, the form of these relationships and the means to sustain them differ.

Furthermore, locating TT and KM within research projects or research units (i.e. TT only for the life sciences or KM only for immigration and settlement) fails to maximize the economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts of academic research. KM and TT need to be developed at the institutional level.

Stay tuned to this blog for more musings about TT and KM.

Student Led Research Grant Announcement from UVic

The UVic Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Unit is pleased to announce an excellent funding opportunity that will allow Graduate and Undergraduate students at UVic to participate in KM.

The “Student Led Research Grants” initiative connects the B.C. Government with university students and their professors to conduct research that addresses public policy issues. It provides students with unique opportunities to apply their research skills to challenges faced by government and society.
To support the implementation and development of the research projects cross government, the BC Government is providing a one time funding grant to the University of Victoria to support student led research. The intent of the grant is to promote partnerships with post secondary institutions and to facilitate student research. The research generated from these grants will be used to aid in decision making and policy formation in various Ministries across the BC Government.

The funding available is up to $1500 per student, and may be used by the student to support new or ongoing research projects. To be eligible, students must receive written support from a supervising faculty member. The UVic KM Unit will be responsible for allocating and administering the student grants. The funding is provided directly to students in the form of honorariums, or in the form of travel and education grants to attend and present research at conferences.

The grant guidelines include a document from the BC Government outlining the current areas of research interest in the various Ministries. Students are encouraged to read through this document to see if their research is eligible for funding.

To view these grant guidelines, application forms, and support forms, go to:

The deadline for proposals is October 3rd, 2008

meet a mobilizer – Jason Guriel, York University

My name is Jason Guriel, and I’m a Ph.D. Candidate in English at York University, with an interest in contemporary American poetry. I’m a published poet and critic, but for the last few summers, I’ve also helped to craft research summaries for the Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Unit at York University. Some of my professors would probably be scared of the vaguely militaristic term, “Knowledge Mobilization,” but they have nothing to be afraid of! KM is about communication, and this job has been more than just a summer gig that pays the bills between teaching assignments; it certainly has involved more than just summarizing academic research. The KM Unit has given me the chance to not only learn about the very best of York research but to help make some of it more accessible to a wider audience. The KM Unit is also a fun group to work with, and not a bad bunch of bowlers!

ACCELERATE Ontario – Ontario’s Graduate Research Internship Program

ACCELERATE Ontario is a unique program which connects the province’s up-and-coming highly-skilled researchers – grad students and post-doctoral fellows – with Ontario companies through short-term applied research projects.

The formula is simple; a 4-month research project is identified which is of interest to an Ontario company, a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow – the intern – and his/her supervising professor. Over the 4 months, the intern undertakes research on the identified business issue under the supervision of the professor, all the while remaining a student at his/her university

Half of the intern’s time is spent on site with the partner company, researching the identified issue, collecting data and gaining an in-depth understanding of the challenge while the balance of his/her time is spent at the university, further advancing the research under the guidance of a professor and developing an innovative tool, technology or solution to the company’s challenge.

For each four month internship, the partner company contributes $7.5K, which is matched dollar-for-dollar by ACCELERATE Ontario, through the support of the Government of Ontario, the NCE Program and NSERC. The result is a $15K research grant to the intern’s supervising professor with the intern receiving a minimum of $10K for the 4-month period. The remaining $5K can support other costs associated with the internship, such as intern travel, computer equipment, laboratory materials etc. The program is managed by MITACS, a federally-funded research network connecting Canadian researchers with companies, government agencies and other organizations through collaborative research projects.

To facilitate research opportunities, MITACS has an Ontario-based team of business development personnel hosted by York University. With diverse backgrounds in information technology, business, biotechnology and chemistry, the team will work companies to clearly define their research challenges and find the ideal research expertise to tackle the problem. They will also help university-based researchers identify companies which could be interested in their research.

Any faculty is eligible for an ACCELERATE Ontario internship – from nursing to computer science and engineering, to biology to anthropology to social work. For more information, visit and click on “Ontario” or contact Namrata Barai at .

York’s KM Unit Continues to Forge Relationships between Researchers and Community Agencies

On July 24, 2008, York University played host to the first ever Knowledge Mobilization Peer to Peer (P2P) Network meeting. The meeting brought together students, researchers, and community partners engaged in knowledge mobilization (KM) – the active, two-way exchange of information and expertise between knowledge creators and knowledge users.

“This is an extraordinarily innovative undertaking,” said Dr. David Dewitt, Associate Vice-President Research & Innovation, at the start of the P2P Network meeting. “York is not just trying to impart info to the outside world,” he noted. “We are here to work with our colleagues outside the university.”

Knowledge mobilization (KM) is not a new process. Traditionally, tech transfer offices have provided universities with a mechanism for patenting scientific discoveries, like new vaccines, which can then be moved out into the world. But no comparable mechanism exists for research from areas like the social sciences and humanities – research that can have a profound impact on shaping public policy and professional practice. The KM Unit at York, one of two such Units in the country which have received grants from CIHR and SSHRC, provides just that mechanism. Along with the University of Victoria, York’s KM Unit has created ResearchImpact, Canada’s emerging KM network.

“We have an opportunity to complement and redefine scholarship,” said Michael Johnny, Manager of York’s KM Unit. “KM depends on relationships that we need to actively broker.”

Some of the relationships that the KM Unit has brokered were in evidence at the P2P Network Meeting. Attendees included homelessness researcher Dr. Stephen Gaetz, an Associate Dean with the Faculty of Education at York, and numerous graduate students who, through grants made possible by the KM Unit, now work with community agencies throughout the GTA.

Dr. Joanne Cummings, a York researcher, gave a brief talk on the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet), a project for which she serves as Partnership Manager. The goal of PREVNet is to translate and exchange knowledge about bullying to enhance awareness, to provide assessment and intervention tools, and to promote policy related to the problems of bullying. PREVNet, as Cummings noted, is trying to mobilize knowledge about bullying to the community.

“The importance of creating relationships can’t be overemphasized,” Cummings told the assembled participants.

The meeting ended with a roundtable discussion that set the agenda for the Knowledge Mobilization P2P Network as it continues to encourage new relationships that will help to build and sustain vital research partnerships over time.

Knowledge Mobilization and Community-Based Research at UVic

The UVic Knowledge Mobilization Unit and Office of Community-Based Research have been working closely together under the institutional banner of “Civic Engagement” for a year. It is quickly becoming apparent that the goals of both of these initiatives would be realized more efficiently and thoroughly if there was an official amalgamation. The upcoming merger of the Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the Office of Community Based Research will create greater capacity for impact on all levels.

The coming together of Knowledge Mobilization and Community-Based Research functions at UVic will allow the knowledge brokers to pool resources, exchange expertise, and expand networks, leading to greater capacity to support various research collaborations with community organizations and policy makers. This merger will create one cohesive, organized, and productive office with a civic engagement mandate relating to positive social change.

University researchers awarded CIHR grant

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Mental Health Commission have awarded a grant of $1.5 million to a team of researchers, including a contingent from York University. According to a July 22 YFile article, they will be researching “how young adults who suffer from mental health problems, and those who support them, make decisions about their mental health. The project also promises to develop methods to help the mental health care sector better address the needs of Canadian youth by transferring knowledge to them in optimal, timely formats.”

The York researchers involved in the project include Henny Westra, Lynne Angus, John Eastwood, Madalyn Marcus and David Phipps.

KM intern making a difference with West End Heat Registry

Tanya Gulliver, an intern with the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York University, appeared in the July 18 edition of the Toronto Star, discussing her role as co-ordinator of the West End Heat Registry. The Heat Registry is a project funded by the City of Toronto, designed to ensure the safety of at-risk residents on days when the City issues heat advisories.

The KM at York Internship Program offers summer internships to York graduate students working in partnerships with community organizations, including government, NGOs, labour, private sector and community-based agencies. The community organization must provide the graduate student with the opportunity to apply her/his research and expertise to the benefit of the organization.

You can read the Toronto Star article here, or follow this link to find a video about the Heart Registry’s services.

meet a mobilizer – michael johnny, york university

Hi. I am Michael Johnny, a knowledge broker at York University. It is what I do and what I enjoy. But it is not who I am. But then who ever grows up aspiring to be a knowledge broker (yet)? My mother told me I wanted to be the person that cleaned street lights. My healthy respect (OK, fear) of heights meant that dream is now a distant memory.

I prefer to introduce myself as a father. My daughter’s name is Meghan. For almost seven years now, Meghan and I have enjoyed an annual trip to Algonquin Park with good friends from Turkey (below from left to right, Didem, Meghan and I). The trip north allows us some quality time together, as well as a chance for me to recharge the batteries! I still argue an Algonquin is one of life’s pleasures that can’t be beat.

When I am not mobilizing knowledge or canoeing in the north, I enjoy spending time with my finacée. We met at our high school reunion (for real)!

Golf, cooking, red wine, walking my dog Charlie, and a recent introduction to the bass guitar are hobbies that keep me happy and healthy!

Knowledge in Motion 2008

Knowledge in Motion, 2008 is a three-day international conference being hosted by Memorial University and organized on its behalf by the Leslie Harris Center of Public Policy and Development to explore the role Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) play in mobilizing knowledge in a regional development context, and how that role is best carried out. From October 16th to the 18th three hundred researchers, policy makers and community developers from around the world will exchange best practices and examine the opportunities to transfer knowledge and improve communications among those interested in continuing efforts to mobilize knowledge, generally and for specific purposes.

An open call to present or facilitate conference content has resulted in over one hundred submissions ranging in content from knowledge mobilization (KMb) processes in community health care to government/private sector collaborations in emerging economic sectors. A draft conference program is attached as is a list of individual submissions grouped under relevant KMb themes. Work is continuing to develop a full program including plenary sessions on media, community and international practices in knowledge mobilization. Iterations of the full conference agenda will be shared promoted at as developed. Registration for the conference and its concurrent sessions will go live via the website the week of July 14th.

You are encouraged to consider attending this innovative conference that will not simple be about knowledge mobilization but will in fact be a form of knowledge mobilization. Four community field trips are being planned as part of the conference program. Leaders for major research funding sources are confirmed. Keynote speakers Bob MacDonald of CBCs Quirks and Quarks, and Dr. Sandra Nutley, University of Edinburgh and author of Using Evidence: How Research Can Inform Public Services have also been confirmed. Other plenary sessions will explore knowledge mobilization from the community perspective, from the public policy-makers perspective and from the media’s perspective.

For more information continue to check the website or contact

York University Collaborates With The World Green Building Council To Mobilize Knowledge

Earlier this year, York University formed a partnership with the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), via the WorldGBC Universities Pilot Program. In the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between York and the WorldGBC, WorldGBC identifies ResearchImpact as a key factor in choosing to partner with York, stating, “York University is also a national leader in knowledge mobilization leading ResearchImpact, Canada’s emerging national knowledge mobilization network.”

The WorldGBC is a union of national councils whose mission is to accelerate the transformation of the global built environment towards sustainability. The current member Green Building Councils (GBCs) of the WorldGBC represent over 50 percent of global construction activity, and touch more than 10,000 companies and organizations worldwide. GBCs are consensus-based, not-for-profit organizations that are highly effective at engaging leaders across sectors to transform the built environment.

WorldGBC members are leading the movement that is globalizing environmentally and socially responsible building practices. The WorldGBC provides leadership and a global forum to accelerate market transformation from traditional, inefficient building practices to new generation high-performance buildings.

Under the terms of the MOU between York and the WorldGBC, York students and faculty will conduct research on behalf of the WorldGBC, and will develop strategies to effectively disseminate this research. In addition, York will assist the WorldGBC in the development of a Knowledge Mobilization strategy and a WorldGBC online research portal.

For more information about the World Green Building Council, visit

Community Based Video Art and Activism Course at YorkU

The following course will be offered during the Winter semester at YorkU:

FA/VISA 3053 3.0 Community Based Video Art and Activism
Winter (Tuesday 9:30 – 1:30)
Same as FA/FILM 3331 3.0
For enrollment purposes: the Catalogue Number: D69P01

Focuses on the community based video, documentary and video activism.
Students create individual and/or group projects on topics of their choosing, working with community organizations. Students gain skills in production, editing and working with community organizations. The field of community art addresses the social responsibility of artists as well as the relevance of art to society and reframes art as a vehicle for community groups and activists to explore and engage with contemporary societal issues through art-making. Elective course toward the Community Art Certificate program.

Prerequisites: 3rd or 4th year standing. Materials Fee: $20.
Course Director: Nancy Nicol

The course has open spaces for non-majors and has space available in it now.

KM Resources

Knowledge: we all mobilize, transfer, translate and/or exchange knowledge between knowledge creators and knowledge users. Research funders and stakeholders are demanding increasing accountability. Researchers are increasingly engaging research users in all aspect of the research cycle from design to execution, evaluation and dissemination. Research users are looking for more information but in accessible formats. In an attempt to provide assistance to a variety of stakeholders many organizations, we are now offering support services to enhance research utilization and knowledge mobilization.

ResearchImpact has undertaken a thorough scan of Canadian and some International organizations supporting KT/KM/KE, and has summarized the services offered by these organizations. We present this information with permission from the organizations reviewed. You can access the searchable database of KM resources here.

This is a growing list that gives a snap shot in time of a growing KM community. If you know of an organization that belongs on this list, if you find a dead link or if you just have comments, please contact us.

ResearchImpact at Congress 2008

Thousands of academics, researchers, and policymakers converged on Vancouver, B.C. last week for Congress 2008, which marked the 30th anniversary of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Among the attendees were the Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Units from York University and the University of Victoria, which form a dynamic group of knowledge brokers who have been collaborating on ResearchImpact, Canada’s emerging KM network.

“It’s an exciting initiative and the first of its kind in Canada,” said David Phipps, Director of the Office of Research Services (ORS) at York and the leader of York’s KM Unit. “ResearchImpact is a national network of knowledge brokers who draw together academics, policymakers, and practitioners, along with government and community agencies from across the country.” The goal of ResearchImpact is to enhance the use of research and help inform public policy and professional practice.

Phipps, an invited speaker at Congress, gave a talk on how knowledge flows between researchers and knowledge users. He was also invited to a closed session on capturing the impacts of publicly funded research. This session was led by SSHRC representatives and featured nationally recognized leaders in KM.

The KM Units from York and UVic also hosted a booth at the book fair, a mainstay of Congress. With 10,000 academics estimated to be in attendance, there were plenty of opportunities to expand the growing ResearchImpact network.

“It was a pleasure to speak with many prominent researchers – from York and elsewhere – who dropped by the booth,” said Michael Johnny, Manager of KM at York. “It was also great to connect with many decision-makers from numerous federal departments across the country. The discussions we had were valuable and will help to strengthen York’s role as a national leader in KM.”

Krista Jensen, a KM Officer at York, presented SSHRC staff with a summary of the activities at York that have been supported by the Knowledge Impact in Society grant.

“This crucial grant,” said Jensen, “makes KM capacity and services possible for York Region, one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.”

Leadership and support for the KM Unit’s visit was provided by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation at York. Funding was provided by SSHRC and CIHR.