Knowledge Mobilization Summer School – August 15-17, Carleton University, Ottawa

This post first appeared on the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization website and is reposted here with permission. For full details about the KMb Summer School, click here.

Knowledge Mobilization Summer School – 2nd Annual, Carleton University, Ottawa

August 15 @ 8:00 am – August 17 @ 5:00 pm EDT | $452

Please save the dates of August 15-17, 2016 for the 2nd Annual Knowledge Mobilization Summer School at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

What is the KMb Summer School? Three days of learning and skill development in the field of knowledge mobilization.  Hands-on workshops and networking with professionals will provide a unique opportunity for early career  KMb individuals to develop a solid foundation of understanding of the key principles of KMb, collaboration, stakeholder engagement, and evaluation.

Who should attend? Early career professionals working in the area of Knowledge Mobilization or Knowledge Translation and Transfer; this includes researchers, knowledge brokers, research facilitators, and graduate students.  Participants will come from a broad cross-section of organizations such as universities, not-for-profit organizations, research institutions, government agencies, National Centres of Excellence, and industry.

Where will the KMb Summer School take place? In 2016, we are pleased to offer this institute at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.  Accommodations are available at nearby hotels, inns, hostels or via AirBnB.

Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided.

Cost: $400 + HST = $452.00 – (registration open)

Includes three days of:

  • instruction from leading Knowledge Mobilization practitioners and scholars
  • support materials
  • expert keynote speaker
  • dinner on Tuesday evening
  • breakfast
  • break snacks
  • lunch


Day 1 – 15 August 2016

1) Morning Session: Knowledge Mobilization 101
Peter Norman Levesque, KSJ, President, Institute for Knowledge Mobilization

Knowledge mobilization is an umbrella term that captures multiple practices and has significant history. This session provides a baseline of historical developments that have led to the current state of practice.  We will also unbundle some of the confusion around the 90+ multiple terms used for moving the best of what we collectively know into what we do.  Key readings and resources will be provided to participants.

2) Afternoon Session: Knowledge Mobilization @ Work
Facilitated Invited Panel of practitioners, policy-makers and researchers

Facilitator, Shawna Reibling, Knowledge Mobilization Officer, Wilfrid Laurier University

Evening: Open Socialization with peers

Day 2 – 16 August 2016

3) Morning Session: Process Mapping
Kate Wetherow, Knowledge Management Specialist, Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA)

Process mapping can be used for greater collaboration and consensus with staff teams. Rooted in LEAN, a business methodology for process improvement, this session will look at how you can improve the efficiencies and effectiveness of key processes, build capacity and enhance creativity by freeing time to focus on priority work. This includes visual management strategies, tools and techniques.

4) Afternoon Session: Innovation to Implementation
Liz Wigfull, Manager, Knowledge Exchange,  Mental Health Commission of Canada

There is a substantial gap from the time new knowledge is created to when it is put into practice. The field of Knowledge Translation (KT) has emerged as a response to this gap. The Innovation to Implementation (I2I) guide is a how-to resource for driving change using KT activities. The guide illustrates how to move from innovation to implementation in a thoughtful manner to achieve the desired outcomes of a project or initiative.

Evening: Dinner in Byward Market or Ottawa River Cruise

Day 3 – 17 August 2016

5) Morning Session: The art and science of influence: mobilizing compassion and behavioural economics
Harry Stefanakis, PhD, Clinical Psychologist

When mobilizing knowledge, it is important to consider the recipient’s capacity to receive and act on the knowledge. Without understanding some basic human biases in how we think our communication can have unintended consequences. This session focuses on understanding how to cultivate contexts that open space for possibility and change through compassionate based processes and how to respectfully nudge or influence recipients towards life affirming choices.

6) Afternoon Session: Design Thinking and Telling the Data Story
Creativity is to innovation what necessity is to invention. It leads to social change (built on the past/present) and transformation (creation of the future). In order for change to happen though, a story needs to be told…information needs to be mobilized to those who will make the best use of it. In other words, we need to have data and we need to be compelling in how we present it. Using IBM’s design thinking principles to inspire our creativity, we will unleash the power that data has in storytelling.

The hosts at Carleton have provided some suggested accommodations for those that are budget conscious:

Name: Cost per night: Extra info.
HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel75 Nicholas Street, Ottawa


$ 34.00-36.00 (dorm style)$ 40.00-92.00 (single private room) *Includes breakfast, note that bathrooms are shared for each room type.
Ottawa Backpackers Inn203 York Street, Ottawa


$ 26.00-35.00 (dorm style)$ 60.00-100.00 (single room) *On-site kitchen facilities, free coffee and tea, coin laundry
Barefoot Hostel89 Daly Avenue, Ottawa


$ 34.00 and up (dorm style rooms only)*For private rooms see their sister hotel, The Swiss Hotel below. *Microwave access, tea and coffee, outdoor patio
Business Inn180 Maclaren Street, Ottawa


Approx. $ 95.00 *Kitchen suite options available

York Leads Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum to a New Level of Excellence

This post originally appeared in YFile on July 6, 2016 and is reposted here with permission.

York University hosted the fifth annual Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum (CKF16) on June 28 and 29.

By all standards this was the largest and most comprehensive gathering of knowledge mobilization scholars, students and practitioners in the world, said David Phipps, executive director of research and innovation, York University.

Participants gathered for the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum, which was hosted by York University

Participants gathered for the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum, which was hosted by York University

York University hosted this year’s forum as part of the 10th anniversary celebration of York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, which located in the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.

The forum, the only venue in Canada and the largest in the world, brings together the scholarship and the practice of knowledge mobilization across all disciplines. Some 232 registrants attended the forum, which had more than $50,000 in sponsorship. Participants came from across Canada and the United States, and from the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The hashtag #CKF16 trended on Twitter in Canada on both June 28 and 29. There were some 80 presentations, performances and posters.

Michael Johnny

Michael Johnny

“The Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum is the premier event for knowledge mobilization in the world,” said Robert Haché, vice-president, Research & Innovation at York University. “Hosting this year’s forum is testament to York’s international reputation for knowledge mobilization.”

Michael Johnny, manager of York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, chaired CKF16, and led a program committee that included Krista Jensen, York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Officer and partners from Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, Bloorview Kids Rehab, Hospital for Sick Children, Treasury Board Secretariat of the Ontario Public Service.

“Michael Johnny and his entire team put together an exemplary program of content describing knowledge mobilization research, practice, theory, methods and tools,” said Peter Levesque, president of the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization. “The outstanding response from the Canadian and global community is a result of Michael’s leadership this year and reflects York’s leadership over the last 10 years.”

Examples of knowledge mobilization research and practice shared at the forum came from research areas that included mental health and addictions, agriculture, the Arctic, Aboriginal issues, gambling, education, housing, social services and many other disciplines. Representatives shared their stories, tools and methods they used to maximize the economic, social and environmental impacts of research.

David Phipps, centre, watches the proceedings

David Phipps, centre, watches the proceedings

The Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum was started in 2011 by the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization and has since been hosted in Ottawa, Mississauga, Saskatoon and last year in Montreal drawing 172 registrants. Next year the forum will return to Ottawa as part of celebrations to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary.

What I Thought Knowledge Mobilization Would Look Like 5 Years Ago

At the 1st Annual Knowledge Mobilization Forum I looked into my crystal ball and predicted what the field would look like in five years. Now, five years later, it’s time to check in and see if my predictions bore any similarity to reality.

David Phipps at CKF12

David Phipps at CKF12

At the first Knowledge Mobilization Forum held in Ottawa in 2012, I gave a keynote address that included a gazing forward to imagine where the field would be in five years. I also took suggestions from the audience and improvised responses based on those suggestions. The audience predictions fell into three broad themes: culture & practice, impact & outcomes, networks & systems. You can read about those predictions in the report of the first Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum starting on page 15.

Many of my predictions have come to pass and the majority of audience predictions have either happened or are in progress. From my list the prediction that remains unfulfilled (marked in red below) concerns evidence based knowledge mobilization practice. We have lots of evidence about knowledge mobilization yet many researchers fail to mobilize their knowledge mobilization evidence to knowledge mobilization practitioners. Some exceptions are Vicky Ward who makes her scholarship accessible on her blog, John Lavis’ team who do a good job providing his research in alternative formats on the McMaster Health Forum and Melanie Barwick who actively supports capacity building of knowledge mobilization practitioners in her evidence based SKTT and KTPC courses.

Similarly many (I dare to say most) knowledge mobilization practitioners are aware there is an evidence base but do not engage actively with that evidence nor do we often form partnerships with knowledge mobilization researchers.

Collectively we remain knowledge hypocrites, something that hasn’t changed since the first Knowledge Mobilization Forum.

Reflecting on the audience predictions that have not come to pass (see below):

  • I do not believe we can easily differentiate between “good KT” and “Bad KT”. I think we agree on certain principles of KT (build trust, understand context, build capacity, engage stakeholders, etc.) but how we do those varies in each context. It is thus hard to say what is “good” and what is “bad” since how to build trust well in one context may not work in another context.
  • I have no idea if we are seeing impacts sooner. It has been reported that KT interventions produce either unclear or minimal benefit but I am not aware of evidence that KT is speeding up the time it takes to move research into practice/policy.
  • I do not believe we spend enough time building capacity of non-academic partners (including community partners) to engage as authentic partners in the research to impact journey. If partners are key to generating impacts (see here and here) then we need to spend time building their capacity engage with research(ers) and researchers’ capacity to engage with partners and their evidence/expertise.

See below for where we are in 2016 and where we thought we would be back in 2012:


Topic In 2012 In 2016 Comments
K* as a profession Yes Yes OPS has a +130 member CoP; many organizations are hiring KMb positions
Training for K* Sort of Yes Melanie Barwick as KTPC and SKTT; iKMb and KT Canada each have a summer school; many grad courses in knowledge mobilization.
Social Media


5-10 years Sort of Ubiquitous for dissemination, some channels (i.e. LinkedIn) for discussion but not yet using for engagement; ethics of capturing data from social media unclear
Systems and networks Yes Yes RIR planning for international connections; UKKMb Forum 2015 initiated a global CoP conversation
Single term No No I don’t think it matters but others do
Evaluation No Sort of We have greater appreciation of methods of research impact assessment and how planning for KMb establishes who to collect the evidence of impact but not in wide practice
KMb evidence informed practice & vice versa Yes No Some, but few, KT researchers engage with and mobilize their outputs to KT practitioners. Many practitioners are aware there is evidence behind their practice but aren’t able to critique the evidence
Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum Yes Yes CKF16 was a resounding success with 232 registrants, 80 submissions of content, $50K in sponsorship


Audience suggestions that have come to pass:

  • New structures dedicated to KMb
  • Brokers in and out of universities
  • Established a well-known KM channel
  • Cross sectional, cross discipline relationships
  • Credibility (as a valid profession) and be Cross-cutting (from multiple disciplines)
  • Establish a global knowledge network to connect knowledge producers, researchers, end-users,

Audience suggestions that have not come to pass:

  • Ability to differentiate “good KTs” vs. “bad KTs”
  • See impacts sooner
  • Expanded community capacity to engage in research

Audience suggestions that are in progress:

  • More KT-driven legislation and more examples of evidence-based medicine
  • Return on investments from KT
  • Clarity (distinction from communication)
  • Establish the KMb galactic empire
Participants of CKF12

Participants of CKF12


Strengthening impact through people. Or ‘Why REF is like your mother in law’ / Augmenter l’impact grâce aux personnes, ou Pourquoi le Research Excellence Framework (REF, organisme d’évaluation de la recherche universitaire au R.-U.) ressemble un peu à une belle-mère

Julie Bayley (Coventry University, UK) is collaborating with David Phipps (RIR-York) under a Fellowship from the Association of Commonwealth Universities. They are working on competencies for knowledge brokers and the new concept of “impact literacy”. This first appeared on Julie’s blog on June 22, 2016

Julie Bayley (Coventry University, R.-U.) et David Phipps (RIR-York) sont cochercheurs, boursiers de l’Association of Commonwealth Universities. Ils s’intéressent aux compétences des courtiers de connaissances et au nouveau concept de « littéracie de l’impact ». Ce concept est mentionné pour la première fois sur le blogue de Julie, le 22 juin 2016.

It’s clear that impact is growing swiftly within international research agendas.  I’ve had many discussions recently with colleagues across various ponds for whom the dark cloud of impact is looming. Many seem to be looking to the UK to learn from our REF experience, and to be frank that’s not a bad idea at all.  Where impact is concerned it’s fair to say the UK is both specialised and battle-worn in equal measure. Unlike many of our international peers, our sector has been driven by centralised impact assessment, rather than broader dialogues of ‘benefits’ and ‘knowledge mobilisation’.  It is an approach with pros and cons, many of which we’re still unpicking.  Certainly the wonderfully engaged discussion at the recent ARMA Impact Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting at the annual conference shows just how much we still need to do to integrate, normalise and support impact in its most meaningful terms.

Impact for many of us is a good thing.  We welcome the focus on positively influencing the world beyond the university walls, and let’s face it, this in itself is not a new agenda.  For applied researchers (myself very much included), we have always sought to qualitatively contribute solutions to social problems.  However the more formal assessment driven (REF) impact agenda shifts such virtuous rhetoric towards reductionism and selectivity. REF is a bit like your mother in law who manages to completely overlook the 6 hours of cleaning you’ve done and focus instead on the speck of dust you’ve left behind the TV. It’s a one-off assessment which ignores how frantically you’ve cooked, ironed, and incentivised-your-children-to-behave-less-like-chimps. And like REF, usually results in a large glass of wine.

I don’t say this to dismiss REF.  If anything, REF has accelerated the importance of impact within academia and for that I am thankful.  With the puerile analogy above aside, I strongly urge those for whom impact is emerging to really take time to consider how impact ‘works’.  A formal impact agenda raises challenges across the academic sector, arguably posing most difficulties for fundamental research and that with less easily measurable endpoints (eg. arts and humanities).  Assessment-driven approaches risk reducing impact value to a small subset of narrowly demonstrated effects.  Unless we approach impact literately* and meaningfullywe will only ever firefight paths towards social effects.

In all of this, it’s crucial too that we don’t ignore the people.  Obviously it’s vital that we engage stakeholders and consider wider public benefit, and there’s excellent thought-leadership in these areas. However here I’m referring to a different group – impact practitioners themselves, be they the academic driving their own work or a research manager supporting a broader programme of work.  The impact sector has grown rapidly within the UK, and – as demonstrated through the wealth of experience and expertise in the ARMA Impact SIG – the sector would be foolish not to recognise the skills and capabilities so fundamental to translating research into effects.

Reducing impact to a measured subset of effects obscures the expertise needed for knowledge brokerage, culture change, partnership management, strategic planning and reconfiguration and many other things in combination.  If we are to create ‘good impact’ we need to recognise and invest in professional development amongst all those supporting this agenda.  And avoid bolting impact on as an afterthought. And understand how assessment models may drive behaviour. And how this may be judged by a Mother-in-Law-dust-seeking review**.

Let’s make the research count.  Properly.

*Impact literacy paper to come with the brilliant Dr David Phipps!! (@Researchimpact)

**My mother in law likes me. At least she hasn’t said otherwise

What is the Role of Scholarly Publishing in Research Impact? / Comment les publications savantes contribuent-elles à l’impact de la recherche ?

This was the question posed at the Society for Scholarly Publishing in a session on knowledge mobilization. Panelists spoke about the use of social media, videos and other forms of “creative dissemination” such as apps. David Phipps spoke about impacts of research beyond the academy derived from engaged methods of knowledge mobilization.

C’est la question qui était posée par la Society for Scholarly Publishing lors d’une rencontre sur la mobilisation des connaissances. Les panélistes ont parlé de l’utilisation des médias sociaux, de vidéos et d’autres formes de « dissémination créative », comme les applis. David Phipps a parlé de l’impact de la recherche à l’extérieur de l’université quand il est provoqué par des méthodes actives de mobilisation des connaissances.

The Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP), “founded in 1978, is a non-profit organization formed to promote and advance communication among all sectors of the scholarly publication community through networking, information dissemination, and facilitation of new developments in the field.” For SSP impact is measured in bibliometrics. It was a pleasure to receive their invitation to participate on a panel in Vancouver on June 2, 2016 to push them beyond academic dissemination and get them thinking about methods “beyond the PDF”.

Impact beyond dissemination

I was joined on the panel by Sarah Melton (@SVMelton, Emory Centre for Digital Scholarship) speaking about digital humanities and demonstrating an app developed for public history. Ben Mudrak (@BenMudrak, Research Square) spoke about the production of videos to enhance the reach of scholarship and Melinda Kenneway (@MelindaKenneway, Kudos) spoke about social media as tools to extend beyond scholarly dissemination. For creative dissemination methods impact is measured by reach metrics (views, downloads, social media analytics).

My presentation (slides available here) went beyond dissemination methods to speak about engaged methods of knowledge mobilization that create the conditions for impact beyond the academy. These impacts are measured by demonstrable changes in products, policy, practice and processes that benefit end users as told through narratives. The presentation ended with the question posed to the audience “what is the role of scholarly publishing and publishers in the research impact agenda?”

One interesting comment back was “Well unless we can make money doing it then we aren’t going to do it”. Melinda did a great job justifying the need for a new business model. My comment was that question is using an old business model to address a new paradigm. I suggested BetaMax asked the same question of VHS. And, more analogous, the music industry asked the same question about Napster.

Impact is now a regular feature of every grant application in Canada as exemplified by the knowledge mobilization strategy and outcomes statements in all SSHRC applications. The Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences announced a project to articulate impacts in October 2014.  In the UK impact is part of the Research Excellence Framework institutional assessment. In an environment where impact is becoming a regular part of academic scholarship and where funders such as CIHR, SSHRC and NSERC are requiring publications to be open access, publishers have yet to figure out their role and land on a new business model where research is available beyond the academy to be engaged in knowledge mobilization efforts.

Reflections of CARA 2016 / Réflexions sur l’ACAAR 2016

The ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) network has begun our annual spring road show exhibiting to stakeholders to listen to their needs and raise awareness of institutional supports for knowledge mobilization. We kicked off the road show with the Canadian Association of Research Administrators in Vancouver.

Le RéseauImpactRecherche–ResearchImpact (RIR) a entamé sa tournée printanière annuelle, qui nous permet de rencontrer les intervenants pour les écouter et connaitre leurs besoins, et de sensibiliser les responsables du soutien dans les établissements à la mobilisation des connaissances. Notre premier arrêt : l’Association canadienne des administratrices et des administrateurs de recherche (ACAAR), à Vancouver.

CARA ACAAR logoIt’s an annual occurrence for the RIR network. The opportunity to exhibit at CARA (formerly Canadian Association of University Research Administrators), the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) provides brokers within RIR time and space to engage with research administrators from universities, colleges and academic health research institutions. Exhibiting affords us visibility to promote our network and the important work we do in Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) across Canada. We also field questions and expressions of interest from people who have KMb in their portfolio, or, understand their institution has emerging interests in KMb.

Set in a stunning part of Vancouver, RIR set up for two days of conversation and engagement in early May. Looking back, there are a few reflections that stand out:

Knowledge Mobilization is an increasing priority for research administrators. Pending roles, of course, attendees of CARA are much more familiar with KMb and the questions have shifted from ‘what’ to ‘how’. RIR is well positioned to answer both streams of inquiries. Fielding more than 40 participant conversations the discourse from research administrators is more sophisticated. People are seeking access to information, tools and resources to integrate responsibilities of KMb into their work. Here, I am very pleased to advise that RIR is listening and will be building services which will be accessible for the public in 2016-17. The questions from research administrators over the years have helped to inform this service development.

Michael at CARA

Michael Johnny at the RIR booth at CARA-ACAAR

CARA is an important space for RIR member engagement. Building on an excellent opportunity for networking and professional development, CARA is an excellent venue for RIR members who participate to meet and discuss unique aspects of our work (local and national). RIR members had a brief meeting (and photo). RIR members from Kwantlen,were able to present on their engagement work in KMb to a full room. The meeting opportunity also afforded myself a chance to have a separate meeting and deliver a workshop to Kwantlen staff, faculty and students.

Lastly, as an annual event CARA provides unique space for reflection. The questions and comments from participants are aligned with the growth, knowledge base and complexity of KMb service development and delivery. RIR members utilize a host of different staffing models and services to meet the KMb needs (and opportunities) of their institution and neighbouring community. In nine years now, it has been a privilege to see how this field of work has matured. Reunions with RIR alumni also make the time fun. Sharing stories and laughs of the early days of RIR further reflect the growth and development of our network.

Thanks to CARA for allowing us the space to meet and interact with an important group of people who have strong interests in our work. Vancouver was a success for us and your work around this annual conference has helped support our development in a very important way.

Vancouver scenery

Post Cards from Congress – Day 6 – Until next time!

It’s been another great Congress! We have talked to over 180 delegates representing 40 different post-secondary institutions.

The conversations have been engaging and informative. There has been a lot of interest from researchers at institutions who are not currently part of ResearchImpact to learn how they can become part of the network.

We added a few new items to our booth this year and people seem to really like our new RIR postcards and the KMb planning checklist we brought.

Thanks to the Federation for organizing another excellent Congress. Everything ran very smoothly for us as always.

And a special thanks to the University of Calgary and the City of Calgary for hosting the delegates. I have really enjoyed my time here.

See you next year in Toronto at Ryerson University!

Bow River

Post Cards from Congress – Day 5- Begin at the Beginning

Bow River walking trailThe last few years I have been at Congress, I have noticed that the conversations have changed from the ones I used to have in the early years. Back then, I spent a lot of time explaining what knowledge mobilization is, whereas now I talk a lot about how to do KMb.

While I have enjoyed this shift in the conversation, it has made me assume that everyone knows about knowledge mobilization. I realized this isn’t always the case yesterday when I was talking to a young woman who stopped by the booth. After giving her my usual pitch about who we are and how we help our researchers at York with their knowledge mobilization needs, she asked a number of questions about what KMb was exactly. So I switched to my KMb 101 talk instead and gave her some foundational information about the principles of KMb and some of the common methods used by researchers to connect their research with community partners.

As someone about to start her Masters degree, she had never heard of KMb or even the concept of making research accessible and relevant to society. The quote of the day was when she exclaimed, “This is so exciting!” She had worked in her local community on a social enterprise project and really liked the idea of doing research what would be relevant to her community.

It was an exciting conversation for me as well, as it reminded me why I enjoy working in KMb. And it also reminded me not to assume everyone who stops by the booth already knows what KMb is and that I sometimes need to begin at the beginning.

Post Cards from Congress – Day 4 – 3, 31 and 45

Yesterday was one of the busiest days the RIR booth has ever had at a Congress.  We’re always pleased to talk #KMb at Congress and over the years we’re experiencing a shift toward a culture of engaged scholarship to which KMb is a central part of.  The title may seem odd, and I have not shared my locker combination.  Allow me to explain:

3 – Yesterday saw three organizations approach us with strong interest in our services.  While this is nothing new, they are national organizations with interests in engaging with academic research (and researchers).  Learning more about RIR there are clearly opportunities for us to actively engage these organizations.  Making these contacts at Congress are invaluable, as it is always possible that these relationships can flourish across our network into something substantive.

31 – One of our central purposes for exhibiting at Congress is to engage with universities who are not members of RIR.  We provide information to help researchers take back to their institution to inform senior research administration around the value proposition of RIR membership.  We have an open call for new members.  Yesterday, we had 31 distinct universities and colleges approach us seeking information on RIR.  So much so we need to print more information packages for others who may drop by over the next three days.

45 – this is how many purposeful conversations we hosted yesterday.  And while I can’t confirm it was a record, it was impressive to see faculty, students and interested non-academic organizations seeking to engage around KMb and the services of RIR.  People are impressed with the institutional investments our member universities have made in KMb.  Many of my colleagues may get an email or call from researchers who have grabbed your card and will be seeking more information on how you can support them.

It was a great day yesterday at University of Calgary.  I suspect today will produce more of the same!

Post Cards from Congress – Day 3 – Hump Day at Congress

The days of the week become less relevant when you’re participating in an 8-day conference which includes the weekend.  Including set up day, last Friday, yesterday was the mid-point of what has been a productive and enjoyable Congress.

For RIR, our objectives for exhibiting are to speak about KMb with conference delegates and also to promote RIR to institutions who are currently not members.  But over nine years now, and given our leadership in KMb, Congress has become much more than just promotional conversation.  Yesterday was a great microcosm of our engagement at Congress:

  • Networking – We have developed significant relationships with key national leaders such as SSHRC, the Federation and MITACS. Congress is an important space to meet and interact, to update and explore possibilities.
  • Information Sharing – RIR are now being approached to participate in meetings, panel presentations and scholarly interviews around KMb and Engaged Scholarship. It was a busy day for us at the RIR booth, and within Congress.  We’re pleased to be seen in this way and make important contributions in KMb.
  • Exhibiting – Yesterday we had over 25 dedicated conversations about RIR and KMb with more than 10 universities who are not currently in our network. We’re sharing information which researchers can share back to their senior administration about RIR membership.  We’re also sharing some KMb tools on how we provide service and support at our member institutions to help demonstrate the value proposition of our service model.

Conversations ranged yesterday from prospective graduate students, to senior faculty (including retired faculty) all of whom come at KMb with differing experiences and opinions.  The dialogue is important to help push us to better understand KMb from the researchers’ perspective.  We’re halfway done for 2016…but in terms of RIR and its commitment to service…we’re just beginning!  If you’re at Congress come visit us!


Post Cards from Congress – Day 2 “This is so amazing”

Building your knowledge mobilization strategy in grant applications

The audience at Congress is primarily faculty and students in the humanities and social sciences. And since every SSHRC grant requires a knowledge mobilization strategy today was filled with researchers asking how to create a knowledge mobilization plan. We shared the process we undertake at York while pointing out that each ResearchImpact university will have its own unique services and tools.

We first sit with the researcher to understand the research. We then ask the researcher four questions that we have synthesized from Melanie Barwick’s Knowledge Translation Planning Template (

  1. Who are you partners and/or audiences you will work with?
  2. With those partners co-construct the goals of your knowledge mobilization – what are you hoping to accomplish together?
  3. What are the activities you will do to help meet your goals?
  4. What are the metrics and indicators you will use to assess if your activities have helped you reach your goals?

If you have one page for your knowledge mobilization strategy write four paragraphs. If you have four pages dedicate one page to each of these questions.

It was gratifying to see the light bulb go off for researchers who struggle to articulate a coherent knowledge mobilization strategy. One researcher exclaimed, “This is so amazing!”

We were asked if we have an on line tool to create a knowledge mobilization strategy by answering questions. The answer is no. Each research project is unique and it requires a unique  knowledge mobilization strategy. It is not something that lends itself to formulaic processes. Instead knowledge brokers work hands on with researcher, students and their partners to craft specific knowledge mobilization strategies.

For more tools and tips on knowledge mobilization drop by the ResearchImpact booth at Congress.
congress logo

Post Cards from Congress – Day 1

How to do knowledge mobilization and how to join ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche?

Welcome back to Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities (#congressh) organized every year by the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences and this year hosted by the University of Calgary. Each year ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) exhibits as a leading Canadian example of knowledge mobilization services and supports to help researchers, students and their non-academic partners work together to maximize the impacts of research.

At Congress our primary audience is researchers and students. Nine years ago when we first attended Congress the delegates had no clue about knowledge mobilization. We usually get two questions:

1. I know I need to know about knowledge mobilization but….what is it?
2. Why isn’t my university a member of RIR and how can we join?

The answer to #1 includes providing some tools for researchers to consider when crafting knowledge mobilization strategies in grant applications and/or working with partners. The answer to #2 involves sharing information on the benefits and responsibilities of institutional membership in RIR.

These remain substantially similar to our call for new members in 2013.

Come by the RIR booth at Congress for more insights into institutional knowledge mobilization.

Michael Johnny at the RIR booth

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

SSHRC recently released its new strategic plan to guide its investments and impact from 2016-2020. The plan is organized around the three pillars of SSHRC’s funding: research (=insight); training (=talent) and knowledge mobilization (=connections). All three underpin SSHRC’s traditional impacts on scholarship and training; however, the strategic plan also provides direction on how the social sciences and humanities can have an impact on Canadians outside of the academy. For more information on the potential impacts of the social sciences and humanities please see the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences who launched a project in late 2014 to explore how to measure these impacts.

SSHRC’s desire to create impacts is evident right from the opening page:

It [social sciences and humanities research] enhances our ability to understand and creatively respond to complex individual, social, cultural and economic issues.

Right to the very last sentence:

SSHRC will advance opportunities for the results of its funding – new ideas and trained people – to be more accessible to Canadian organizations in all sectors, to contribute to decision-making and innovation, and to address the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Ted Hewitt, in his introduction to the Strategic Plan, points out that, “Findings from [social sciences and humanities] research are used by – and often, developed with – stakeholders across all sectors, to improve our quality of life, enrich cultural expression, and drive prosperity, equity and sustainability through innovation.”

What SSHRC is committing to is not new for researchers. Canadian researchers, students and their research institutions have a long tradition of working in collaboration with partners from all sectors to create new knowledge, train the next generation and mobilize knowledge into social, economic and environmental impacts. For more than ten years The Harris Centre (Memorial University) and York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit have been leading local knowledge mobilization efforts that connect researchers and students to non-academic partners. The Community Engaged Scholarship Institute (U. Guelph) has been supporting the Research Shop and community based research since 2009. These three are among twelve universities working together as ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR). Our knowledge mobilization network has a vision to “maximize the impact of university research for the social, cultural, economic, environmental, and health benefits across local and global communities.”  RIR will accomplish this by “developing and sharing best practices, services and tools, and by demonstrating to relevant stakeholders and the public the positive impacts of mobilizing knowledge” (RIR Strategic Plan, 2014).

The commitments in SSHRC’s Strategic Plan and those of the RIR Strategic Plan are mutually reinforcing. Both will support the work of researchers and their partners seeking to make an impact on Canadians. SSHRC makes a commitment to “advance opportunities for the results of its funding–new ideas and trained people—to be more accessible to Canadian organizations in all sectors, to contribute to decision-making and innovation, and to help identify and address the challenges of today and tomorrow. In pursuit of this objective SSHRC will:

  • Collaborate with the public, private, not-for-profit and academic sectors to address key current and future challenge areas for Canada;
  • Increase opportunities for students to engage with non-academic sectors in internships and other innovative research-based learning initiatives;
  • Work with students, researchers, research institutions and other stakeholders to better articulate the value and contribution of research.”

This also describes the work of RIR. RIR supports knowledge mobilization that facilitates research collaborations to enable research impacts. RIR promotes engaged undergraduate and graduate student experiences through community service learning, student internships and research shops. RIR is developing methods to assess and communicate the impacts of research on Canadians. RIR has adapted the impact case study format of the UK Research Excellence Framework and complemented it with methods of contribution analysis.

The work at SSHRC to achieve this commitment is well underway. SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative as an example of how SSHRC is already connecting research and researchers beyond the academy to help address and prepare for our future. In 2014 the (then) four Ontario RIR universities – Carleton, York, Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier – collaborated on four regional, SSHRC funded events that collectively helped to imagine Canada’s future by addressing the question: “What knowledge do we need to thrive in an interconnected landscape and how can emerging technology help leverage that goal and its benefits?” Details on the Carleton and Guelph events are available on line. The York event featured SSHRC Partnership Grant funded researcher, Anna Hudson, and her partners from northern Inuit communities and Inuit media companies who also recently presented to the Canadian Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Community of Practice. This recent event created further connections to Canada’s knowledge mobilization researchers and practitioners.

RIR is pleased that SSHRC is not only continuing to promote traditional impacts on scholarship and training but is supplementing these efforts by promoting the broader impacts of research on Canadians. The social sciences and humanities can raise awareness and understanding of economic, cultural, social and environmental issues. They can inform public policies, social services and professional practices that are the basis of Canadians’ responses to these complex issues. Echoing SSHRC’s last commitment above, the RIR universities also look forward to working with students, researchers and other stakeholders to support, assess and articulate the impacts of social sciences and humanities research.

Congratulations SSHRC. The RIR universities look forward to collaborating on impact.

Started in 2006, the RIR universities now include Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of New Brunswick, Université du Québec à Montréal, Université du Montréal, Carleton University, York University, McMaster University, University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Saskatchewan, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and University of Victoria.

Revolutionising How Researchers Connect With the Public / La mobilisation des connaissances à l’UQAM : rapprocher les chercheurs des besoins des publics utilisateurs

Dr. Catherine Mounier, Vice President of Research and Creation at l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), recently described to British journal International Innovation how projects developed at UQAM are helping to improve the scientific and social impact of research by strengthening the links between researchers and the public.  

La vice-rectrice à la recherche et à la création de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Madame Catherine Mounier, explique dans un article scientifique qui est récemment paru dans la revue britannique International Innovation, les projets que l’UQAM élabore actuellement de manière à améliorer les impacts scientifique et social de la recherche en consolidant les liens entre les chercheurs et les publics utilisateurs (version en anglais).

UQAMCatherine Mounier

DECEMBER 18, 2015

The Université du Québec à Montréal is working to improve the impact of its research, both scientific and social, on those it was designed to help through closer engagement between researchers and end users

Getting knowledge on the move

There has long been a discord between academic researchers and those downstream of their work. Often, researchers lament that the general public just does not understand what they are doing, and reciprocally, the general public often accuses researchers of locking themselves away in ivory towers. Indeed, building a successful, long-lasting and fruitful relationship between those on the inside of a university’s walls with those on the outside can seem like a daunting task.

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) is breaking down this divide by acting as a bridge between the two parties and by creating a framework through which potential users of academics’ work and the academics themselves can join forces. They are achieving this feat using the concept of knowledge mobilisation.


The principle behind knowledge mobilisation is to maximise the contribution of social, economic, art, health and environmental research to society and to create an understanding between academic researchers and those downstream of their research’s applications – be those community members, industry members, governmental officials or people somewhere in between. Proponents of knowledge mobilisation insist that in order for research to have true impact on society, there must be a focus on communication, relationship building and shared learning experiences as early on in research as possible so that both the end users and the researchers themselves can influence one another’s ideas. They believe that it is only by approaching information sharing in this way that there will be true uptake of new ideas, technologies, innovations and inventions.

Knowledge mobilisation has been a major thread weaved into the work of the UQAM since its inception. And, in recent years, mobilisation has become more central to the University’s activities, especially in terms of developing ways to support knowledge mobilisation with professors, and since the University joined ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) – a pan-Canadian network committed to knowledge mobilisation – in 2010.


The idea to join RIR and the desire to develop new ways of supporting researchers in their knowledge mobilisation activities initially came from Dominique Robitaille, who was at the time Director of Research and Creation Services (SRC), and Dr Caroline Roger, Director of Partnerships and Innovation Support Services (SePSI). “Our two services developed the knowledge mobilisation unit, which includes two knowledge brokers with the mandate of realising our annual knowledge mobilisation plan,” Rogers shares.

In addition to SRC and SePSI, there is a third unit deeply involved in knowledge mobilisation activities. Community Services (SAC) focuses on engaging with community groups and end users of products. This work allows the Director of SAC, Marcel Simoneau, and his team to understand the needs of the communities relevant to various branches of the University. “SAC exists at the intersection between community and the University,” Simoneau explains. “Its mandates are to act as an interface agent and to promote and coordinate training and research activities to be carried out by faculty members in collaboration with community partners.”

To read the rest of the article and the Q&A, please visit

Enabling Online Community For Remote Learners: An Opportunity with Contact North

MICH logoThe Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH) Program at York University invites you to attend an afternoon broadcast from the Mobile Summit 2016 at Lambton College. The broadcast will take place at Kaneff Tower, York University, Room 746 and will feature MICH and Contact North representatives discussing a free video collaboration hub available to York University researchers to deliver courses and workshops to remote communities in Ontario.

If you are a teacher, educator or work with remote communities, we invite you to join this session to brainstorm on some possible opportunities to leverage Contact North’s services. You could, potentially, deliver one of your courses to students at a Contact North hub and this presentation will allow you to realize the possibilities. We hope this presentation will allow you to leverage a variety of content delivery ideas and also spark further ideas on using a Contact North model in other communities.

Lunch will be served at 12:15 pm followed by the presentations at approximately 1:00 pm. The session will conclude at 2:00 pm.

To register, send an email to with confirmations.