Impact is Measured by Talking to Partners Not Researchers / L’impact se mesure en parlant aux partenaires plutôt qu’aux chercheurs

Researchers either don’t know or overestimate the impact of their research beyond the academy. Here are some ways to foster closer connections between researchers and policy makers and identify stories where research had an impact beyond the academy.

Soit les chercheurs ne connaissent pas l’impact de leurs travaux à l’extérieur de l’université, soit ils le surestiment. Voici quelques clés pour favoriser les liens entre chercheurs et responsables des politiques, et pour reconnaitre les cas où la recherche a bel et bien eu un effet sur le monde extérieur.

LSE Impact Blog logoThe LSE Impact Blog posted a blog by Michele Ferguson, Brian Head, Adrian Cherney and Paul Boreham (University of Queensland) about their study examining the use of academic research evidence by policy makers. One key finding is that academics overestimate the use of academic research by policy makers. “Our results demonstrate a disparity between academics’ perception of the impact of their research and the opinions of public sector staff surveyed.”

This is reminiscent of the findings of SSHRC’s evaluation of their Connections program which evaluated all of their knowledge mobilization funding programs from meeting grants, to journal grants to partnership grants. SSHRC published their findings in September 2013. They found that end of grant reports were not effective for identifying impacts beyond the academy. Consistent with the Queensland post they found that researchers were also not very effective at reporting on impacts. Only partners on knowledge mobilization grants were able to indicate the impacts that occurred.

Makes sense. Since it is the partners who are going to use research to make the products, develop the policies or deliver the services that will eventually have an impact on Canadians then it makes sense to assess research impacts at the level of our partners, not our researchers.

My #1 rule of impact is that impact is measured at the level of our partners.

Don’t ask researchers to tell you about the impacts of their research. Stay in touch with your partners for many years following the conclusion of the research. Although, neither our funders nor any institution without a knowledge mobilization unit is structured to collect these stories of impacts.  See below for our approach.

Obvious question: Why do we still rely on researcher reporting for evidence of impact?

Back to the LSE Blog post: The authors cite challenges policy makers face when trying to use academic research to inform policy decision. None of the observations are new or surprising but what the authors do that is helpful is make suggestions to help researchers and research institutions enhance the connections between research(ers) and policy (makers). This serves as a useful checklist for knowledge mobilization practices and is illustrated below with examples from our practice at York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit.

For academic research to have an influence, it must be accessible.

  • York trains researchers and students to write according to clear language writing and design principles and we have produced over 200 ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries in a searchable database. Read more about these in Scholarly & Research Communications.

Take the time and effort to build and maintain relationships

  • We routinely attend meetings of policy partners including the Human Service Planning Board of York Region and as recently as November 2 we attended the policy research forum of the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities hosting a booth to present our knowledge mobilization services.

Ascertain preferred modes of communication and maintain regular contact.

  • One of our four service streams is acting as a knowledge broker to identify and support collaborations between non-academic partners and academic researchers/students. We received over 400 requests for cialis 2006. These 400 requests come from over 200 non-academic organizations so we have a number of repeat customers.

Create opportunities for bringing academics and policy-makers together.

  • One of our service streams is supporting knowledge mobilization events. Our flagship event is KM in the AM where we hold events off campus addressing research opportunities identified by our partners. You can read more about KM in the AM and our research forums in another paper in Scholarly & Research Communications.

And I would add an additional suggestion:

Stay in touch with research partners to identify the stories of impact

  • At York every partner for whom we brokered a project with one of our researchers receives a phone call every year until we are told that nothing further came of the research or until we get a story of impact such as a new social service or public policy that arose as a result of the collaboration. Note “receives a phone call”. We do not survey our partners. Our partners do not respond to surveys (who does?). We stay in touch with our partners over the course of years, often 3-5 years following the research because research doesn’t inform decisions overnight. You can read about one such impact study in the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship and see the video of this example where the researcher talks about the impact of a research collaboration on a youth emergency shelter. The research undertaken in 2007. We told the story in 2012.

As illustrated by the Queensland research and the SSHRC evaluation, impact is measured at the level of our partners. Listen to your researchers. But proactively stay in touch with your partners.

KMb in the City / MdC dans la ville

On October 31, 2015, We The City featured speakers from community, municipalities and universities including SFU, UNBC, Queen’s, Ryerson, UofT, Mt Royal, OCADU, McGill, U Calgary, Dalhousie, UBC and David Phipps from York University. The event featured about 80 participants, three cities and four buses. We The City was a great showcase of KMb in the City.

Le 31 octobre 2015, We The City présentait des conférenciers issus de la communauté, des municipalités et d’universités comme Simon Fraser, Northern British Columbia, Queen’s, Ryerson, Toronto, Mount Royal, OCADU, McGill, Calgary, Dalhousie et UBC – David Phipps, de York, était là aussi. Environ 80 participants, trois villes et quatre autobus : We The City, une fenêtre ouverte sur la MdC offerte à toute la ville.

There are a number of University based units that create opportunities to connect campus to community. SFU Public Square is one of those. Sponsored by the RECODE program of the JW McConnell Family Foundation, SFU Public Square hosted We The City, a day of events featuring projects, courses and programs that support research and student experiences engaged with partners from community and municipal organizations.

David Phipps and Rui Tang

David Phipps and Rui Tang

I had the pleasure of delivering a break out session with Rui Tang, a fourth year Poli Sci student from UofT. We presented on community camps collaborations. Our breakout session was on a bus (yes, on a bus…more on that later). Rui spoke about her experiences working with communities in China and with immigrant women in Canada. She reflected that her engaged student experiences were instrumental in her learning but that she didn’t find any unique supports on her campus for helping her to connect to community. I was then able to speak about the institutional supports provided by York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit that help connect students and researchers to research partners to maximize the economic, social and environmental impacts of University research.

There were great questions on the bus (I’m getting to that unique feature) and reflections on the differences between working with community or municipal partners. To illustrate the municipal perspective I told the story of the collaboration we helped to broker that undertook an evaluation of the York a Region Welcome a Centre, a hall mark of the Inclusivity Action Plan. Citing the evidence from the “York University evaluation” the Regional Municipality of York invested over $20M to expand the Welcome Centre program from one to five Welcome Centres (now expanded to Durham Region) creating 86 jobs and delivering over 48,000 services to newcomers in York Region.

We the City bus tourThe best part of the daylong event was the format. We met for breakfast at SFU Surrey and had a traditional plenary panel. Then we grabbed coffee and snacks and went to one of four breakout sessions. Each session was on a tour coach that took various routes from SFU Surrey to SFU Burnaby. We then had lunch and another traditional panel following a walking tour of the sustainable residential development called UniverCity that is neighbour to SFU Burnaby.  Then back on the buses for more breakout sessions en route to SFU Vancouver. From there we had a choice of many walking tours to see cultural, social, environmental and health community innovations. This showed off some of the amazing work underway in Vancouver’s communities. I toured the lower east side and saw the incredible work helping community address poverty and its associated challenges of mental illness and substance abuse. We visited the Incite safe injection clinic, a brave and pioneering innovation in harm reduction.

The format of this event was amazing. My only observation is that it would have been difficult for someone with limited mobility to participate if they couldn’t climb onto the bus or easily join the walking tours. But accommodation could certainly have been arranged if needed.

Thank you Shawna Sylvester of SFU Public Square who, along with an incredible team of student organizers, was the driving force behind We The City. Interesting day. Even more interesting format.

Social R+D

This week’s guest post first appeared on SiG’s (Social Innovation Generation) website and is reposted here with permission. 

In July 2015, an emerging cross-sector alliance of social innovators, thinkers, activists, pragmatists and advocates came together to explore how R&D for social impact could become more accessible, supported, integrated, diffuse and intentional. The result? A Declaration of Action.

All are welcome to join this alliance of activity and inquiry – please email info@sigeneration.ca to sign this declaration for a robust, networked and cross-sector social R&D ecosystem and/or to sign-up for news & updates as the ecosystem develops.

An audacious opportunity

 As an emerging alliance of front-line innovators, professionals, advocates, academics, nonprofit and foundation leaders, entrepreneurs, and public policy professionals: We declare a commitment to generate intentional, networked, and shared Research & Development (R&D) capabilities for lasting, positive social outcomes.

Our view is Canada’s innovation culture and ecosystem requires a networked, cross-sector R&D approach if we are to achieve the positive social outcomes we seek.

Creating the conditions for innovation requires our collective commitment to enable and advance R&D for social impact.

Canada’s upcoming 150th birthday in 2017 is an audacious opportunity for this country to lead the world in advancing breakthroughs in complex social, economic and environmental challenges through open, networked and distributed R&D for societal well-being. Over the past 12 months, a common call has been heard at gatherings, in research, around milestones and in working groups across the country around tackling entrenched challenges by animating cross-sector innovation and R&D.

We see R&D as complementary and reinforcing activities that unleash continuous process, product, policy, service, structural, and systems innovation across society.

These activities include, but are not limited to:

Looking:

Exploring, community-led inquiry, ethnography, lit review, case studies, data sourcing

Thinking:

Brainstorming, generating hypotheses, leveraging small, big and open data

Developing:

Designing and testing, piloting, prototyping, evaluating, designing feedback loops, co-production

Diffusing:

Building/sharing capacity, aggregating/sharing lessons from success, failure and process development, leaping by learning

A cross-sector social impact R&D approach will significantly enhance the work of Canada’s innovation ecosystem and propel us towards long-term social and economic prosperity.

Declaration

Now is the time to seed and lead a vibrant ecosystem of public good R&D-enabled innovation across corporate, academic, public and community sectors to generate lasting positive impact.

We believe that an advanced R&D approach necessarily:

  • Focuses on transforming entrenched structures, policy and systems
  • Designs for thriving communities and enriched lives at all stages of life
  • Strives to be open, networked and distributed, supporting all contributors from the passionate amateurs to the large-scale innovation hubs
  • Operates in a spirit of abundance
  • Activates various forms of capital including data, talent, knowledge, infrastructure, finance and social capital (networks)
  • Pursues connection by diffusing from, to and across the margins, the grassroots, the labs, the R&D “arms,” and ongoing organizational silos
  • Targets systems innovation, engaging in the complementary co-development of institutional, scientific/technological, business, and social innovation
  • Facilitates social organizations and enterprises to pursue a “fifth dimension” of core activity: innovation
  • Leads from a new ethical framework for R&D for public good

This declaration is a living document. It serves as a reminder of our commitment to action. We invite others to join in the development of this R&D approach to enable lasting impact.

Declaration Participants:

Tim Draimin SiG National

Vinod Rajasekaran – Impact Hub Ottawa

Kelsey Spitz – SiG National

Lee Rose – Community Knowledge Exchange  

Sarah Schulman – InWithForward

Andrew Chunilall – Community Foundations of Canada

Stephen Huddart – The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

Jason Pearman – Public Servant, Co-Founder Impact Hub Ottawa

Rohit Ramchandani – Antara Global Health Advisors/ColaLife

Amy Mapara – Canadian Red Cross

Anil Patel – Grantbook

Jess Tomlin – MATCH International Women’s Fund

Indy Johar –  00:/

Dave Farthing – YOUCAN

Andrew Taylor – Grand Challenges Canada

Bruce MacDonald – Imagine Canada

Jean-Noé Landry – Open North

Ben Weinlick – Skills Society & Think Jar Collective

Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation

Marilyn Struthers – Consultant, Former Eaton Chair in Social Innovation, Ryerson University

David Phipps – York University, ResearchImpact-ReseauImpactRecherche

Liz Mulholland – Prosper Canada

Claire Buré

John Brodhead

Reading Resources:

The Top 8

  1. Doing Good Better: Upping Canada’s Game with an R&D Engine By Tim Draimin & Vinod Rajasekaran (2015)
  2. Conference Board April 2013 Public R&D Spending By The Conference Board of Canada (2013)
  3. Introducing Kudoz & Fifth Space By InWithForward + partners (2015)
  4. Netiquette 2.0: Moving Forward at the Speed of Trust By Marilyn Struthers & Penny Scott (2015)
  5. Fueling Nonprofit Innovation: R&D Vigor Trumps Randomized Control Trial Rigor By Peter York (2011)
  6. Impact by Design: Making R&D Work for the Social Sector By Meg Long (2012)
  7. Making Evidence Practical for Development By Joe Dickman & Samir Khan (2015)
  8. The point of no return By Sarah Schulman (2015)

And…

Campus to City: Colleges, Universities, and City Building – October 31, 2015

David Phipps, RIR-York, will be presenting at this upcoming event taking place across all three SFU campuses in Metro Vancouver. The full conference schedule and registration details are available here.

Campus to City banner

When: Saturday, October 31, 2015  9:00 am – 7:00 pm

Where: SFU Vancouver, SFU Surrey, SFU Burnaby

SFU Public Square, in partnership with RECODE, an initiative of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is hosting a day-long, national conversation on the role of colleges and universities in city-building.

Designed by students from across Canada, this participatory, moving conference will bring together students, university faculty and staff, city building leaders and community partners to reimagine how colleges and universities can be a driving force in creating vibrant, livable, and sustainable cities.

With visits to SFU campuses in three Metro Vancouver cities and case studies from campuses across the country, participants will have the opportunity to discuss national perspectives against the backdrop of living examples of community collaboration and city-building.

Campus to City participants will explore the three key roles that campuses play as hubs of innovation, as landowner and developers and as community animators. Themes such as sustainability, design for inclusivity, social finance, and First Nations perspectives will be interwoven into the day during moving breakout sessions on tour buses. Participants will be challenged to bring back the ideas, the energy and the project possibilities back to innovate in their campus communities.

Whether you are a student, faculty or staff at a university, a community partner or a leader involved in city building, you have a role to play in shaping this national conversation.

Join us for an interactive, experiential and solutions-focused conference and help us co-create the future of our cities!

Full conference schedule and registration details are available here.

Putting the Social into R&D / Du social dans la R-D

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (David Phipps, RIR York and Cathy Edwards, RIR Carleton) participated in a two day design workshop to develop the basis for an R&D agenda for Canada’s social sector. Or was it to develop a national agenda for R&D with social impact? Whatever it was we won’t be able to do it alone.

Des membres du RéseauImpactRecherche-ResearchImpact (David Phipps, RIR York et Cathy Edwards, RIR Carleton) ont pris part à un atelier de conception de deux jours qui visait à poser les fondements d’un programme de R-D pour le secteur social au Canada – ou peut-être à mettre au point un programme national de R-D ayant un impact social? En tout cas, peu importe ce que c’était, on n’y arrivera pas tout seuls.

For two days Cathy and I joined a meeting of national Foundations (including Community Foundations Canada, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Vancouver Community Foundation, McConnell Family Foundation, Trico Foundation, Rideau Hall Foundation, Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation), social entrepreneurs, Imagine Canada and intermediaries like Tim Draimin and Kelsey SPITZ from Social Innovation Generation who organized the event with Vinod Rajasekaran from Hub Ottawa/Rideau Hall Foundation.

We came together as a follow on to work over the summer that was inspired by a SIG blog titled “Doing Good Better: Upping Canada’s Game with an R&D Engine”. The summer work generated a Declaration of Action that called on social innovators/entrepreneurs and their allies to imagine the impact of joining the heart of community and lived experience with the R&D capacity found in other sectors.

We fortunately didn’t get stuck in definitional dystopia. We resisted the unproductive challenge of agreeing on a definition of “research” or “development” but we did discuss if this this was social R&D or R&D for social impact.  I prefer the latter. Universities already do lots of research on social and environmental issues (although we do some “innovation” but little “development”). We can also develop technology or analyze open data; however it has social (and environmental) impact when we work to reduce disparities, encourage reconciliation, work on climate change and/or improve the health of our local and global communities rather than making money as the primary objective. Money isn’t bad as a byproduct of R&D with a social impact but it means we pay attention to the triple bottom line: people, planet and profits.

We were all asked to make a commitment to one of five working streams arising from the design workshop. I signed up for the conversation about working across sectors in a polycentric fashion. No one sector will be able to achieve social impact from R&D working alone. We need governments and we especially need corporations at the table to achieve lasting impact at scale. Cathy Edwards volunteered to continue the conversations with Hub Ottawa to build up connections and conversations in the region.

Universities, represented by RIR, are at the table. Our role is to represent the role that academic research institutions can contribute to this planning stage and, eventually, to broker to specific research expertise. We will first broker to academic expertise on the social/community/charity/voluntary/NGO (chose your descriptor) sector to ensure the right governance, finance and tax instruments are available to maximize the ability for the social sector and people with lived experience to participate as equals in these R&D efforts. Live long and prosperSubsequently, as domain and subject priorities are identified, RIR will be able to broker research collaborations with faculty and students from across Canada.

If you believe in this work you can contribute by adding your name to the Declaration of Action by emailing info@sigeneration.ca.

For me, the entire event can be summed up in the words of Anil Patel (TimeRaiser) who commended us to “share strong and prosper”.

David Phipps named a Fellow of the Association of Commonwealth Universities

Congratulations to David Phipps, RIR-York, who was recently awarded a Fellowship from the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). The following story first appeared in York University’s YFile on September 18, 2015 and is reposted here with permission.

David Phipps

David Phipps

David Phipps, executive director research & innovation services, has been awarded a Fellowship from the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) to collaborate with colleagues from the United Kingdom on a project that will develop capacity for university-based knowledge mobilization professionals. Phipps was awarded the Gordon and Jean Southam Fellowship that is open to applicants from any Canadian ACU member university.

The Fellowship is funded under the ACU “Titular Fellowships” Program, which aims to enable the universities of the Commonwealth to develop human resources for their institutions. It also supports the interchange of people, knowledge, skills and technologies globally. During the Fellowship in December 2015, Phipps will be hosted by Coventry University as well as colleagues from the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

“This Fellowship is testimony to David’s decade long development of knowledge mobilization at York and with ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche, Canada’s knowledge mobilization network,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “This achievement is also an indication of the growing international recognition of engaged scholarship at York that is creating impacts on public policy, professional practice and social services.”

“Coventry University is pleased to host Dr. Phipps in his Fellowship. We have a national reputation for impact, demonstrated through excellent results in the Research Excellence Framework (2014) and support research impact centrally through an award-winning impact and behaviour change specialist, Julie Bayley,” says Tim Horne, head of the Research Excellence Unit, Coventry University. “Supported by this Fellowship, Coventry University is exceptionally well placed to support and outwardly communicate a scalable and replicable model for knowledge broker competencies.”

Phipps will be joined by other 2015 ACU Fellows from Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Trinidad.

For more information, visit the ACU Titular Fellowships webpage.

Partnerships for Impact: Making Research Partnerships Work

CRFRThis week’s guest post comes from CRFR (Centre for Research on Families and Relationships) located in Edinburgh, Scotland . It was originally published on October 1, 2015 on the CRFR blog and is reposted here with permission.

The Centre for Research on Families and Relationships in consultation with ResearchImpact in Canada and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) have developed a Manifesto for Partnerships between Universities and Non-academics. Here Executive Director Sarah Morton explains what’s in the manifesto and how it can be used.

There is broad agreement amongst research funders in the UK (http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/pe/embedding/) that if academics work more closely with partners from outside the academy their work is more likely to have impact. It helps to embed research in real world issues, creates a group of willing and ready stakeholders, linked to wider networks and can help academics learn about the kind of language and methods required for effective take-up of research. At CRFR we often work together with range of public and third sector partners. We wanted to draw together what we have learned from this and make it more widely available. A partnership manifesto was the way we decided to do this.

Where did the manifesto come from?

In my own research (Creating research impact: the roles of research users in interactive research mobilisation) I investigated partnership and found that there were many ways in which CRFR working in partnership with ChildLine Scotland had led to the impact of that research. I presented these findings about impact to the Scottish Third Sector Research Forum in 2014, and the level of interest led to the idea for a manifesto for partnership research.

Findings from my research were discussed at a workshop at the NCCPE national conference in 2014, with a range of experienced researchers and KE professionals adding their experience. It was then discussed by the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Community of Practice and the ResearchImpact network in Canada:

“At ResearchImpact we were happy to be invited to collaborate on the Manifesto.” says David Phipps, Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services, York University, Canada. “We shared it among our members who provided feedback to Sarah and her CRFR team. Working closely with partners creates the conditions for research to have an impact beyond the academy. The manifesto provides guidance and tips to help support community-campus collaborations.”

The final version has taken on board all comments received and we are confident it is based on the most recent research and informed by the key experts in this field.

What is in the partnership manifesto?

The manifesto takes a process approach to thinking about partnership. It looks at identifying partners, and then goes through the stages of partnership research: starting partnerships, developing funding bids, developing partnerships, and sharing research findings. Advice includes being explicit about what both sides in a partnership can gain, and what commitment is needed, recognising knowledge and resources, and being clear about the difference between research, evaluation and commissioning. A few final comments suggest the need to choose partners carefully where possible, create spaces to reflect on what is and isn’t working, and to include impact assessment so that everyone can show what difference is being made.

How can the partnership manifesto be used?

We hope that the manifesto will provide a useful tool for people interested in research partnerships, whether from third or public sector organisations, or researchers themselves. Whatever stage of partnership people are in, we imagine the manifesto being a useful tool for discussion, development and reflection during partnership research. It can be a means of ensuring everyone is on the same page, by setting out key considerations for open discussion. When partnerships are not going well it might be a tool for reflecting together or separately on what the issues are and how they might be addressed.

Download a copy of the partnership manifesto

Five Steps to Research Impact / Cinq étapes pour que la recherche ait un impact

Knowledge brokering, the formation and support of community campus collaborations, is a key knowledge mobilization method that helps to maximize the social and economic impacts of research. A recent article from York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit breaks that method down into five steps.

Le courtage de connaissances, c’est-à-dire la formation et le renforcement de collaborations entre le campus et la collectivité, est une méthode de mobilisation des connaissances essentielle qui aide à maximiser l’impact social et économique de la recherche. Dans un article récent, l’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de l’Université York décrit les cinq étapes de cette méthode.

At York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit we feel it is important to not only develop effective knowledge mobilization methods but to document those methods so that other knowledge mobilizers can adopt and adapt them to their own contexts. While we present these methods on our SlideShare and YouTube accounts and on our blog, we also feel it is important to document these in the peer reviewed literature for two reasons: 1) peer review is the gold standard in an academic context like ours; and 2) peer review provides an independent validation of the method.

We published our “recipe book” in Scholarly & Research Communications in 2011. This paper presented our seven institutional knowledge mobilization services. We also published our clear language writing in Scholarly & Research Communications in 2012. We published on graduate student interns in Education & Training in 2011 and on social media in a book chapter in 2012.

We then spent 2013 and 2014 writing about community campus collaborations and social innovation. In 2015 we are pleased to have published on our knowledge brokering process, the core of our business. “An institutional process for brokering community-campus research collaborations” was published in the first edition of a new journal called the Engaged Scholar Journal housed at our ResearchImpact partner University of Saskatchewan. This paper was co-authored with Jane Wedlock from United Way York Region so was itself a community campus collaboration. We walk the talk of co-production and as often as possible to co-author with non-academic authors.

The paper presents the five step process we have developed to broker collaborations between community and campus stakeholders. The process is illustrated in the figure and consists of:

  1. Opportunity received and in progress (assessment, seek match, contact match, introduction)
  2. No match
  3. Match and no activity
  4. Match and activity (shared activity such as panelist or speaker at an event but falling short of collaborative project)
  5. Match results in a collaborative research project potentially with impact on the non-academic partner (=5a)

Brokering Flow Chart

Each stage is described in detail in the paper. During development of our method we had a failure (=stage 2) rate of 37%. We queried project partners in that 37% to understand some of the barriers. We made some adjustments to our process in response to feedback and are currently running an 18% failure rate, which we feel is just fine. Many of those 18% are ones that are withdrawn voluntarily because they are not ready for partnering.

We illustrate the brokering process with two stories: Mobilizing Minds and the York Region Food Network. And most importantly we describe the impact on our knowledge brokering process when we introduced Jane Wedlock as a community based knowledge broker. To our knowledge having a knowledge mobilization officer embedded in community and brokering into the university to complement the campus based brokering out to community is a unique model and has provided benefits to both partners:

  1. Greater outreach in the community increased the quality of knowledge mobilization opportunities
  2. Having a community-based knowledge broker provided more time for YorkU knowledge brokers to work on campus and resulted in the launch of on campus workshops which raised the capacity for researchers, students and research staff to engage in knowledge mobilization.
  3. Tracking and data sharing was refined as brokers from YorkU and United Way York Region were engaged in similar opportunities and needed to share data.
  4. With almost 2/3 of opportunities originating outside the university placing additional resources outside the university allowed for greater and more meaningful engagement with community leaders and organizations.

This paper also allowed us to explore issues related to power and to the formation of democratic partnerships. By creating collaborations that respond to the needs of community, building capacity for authentic participation in research and acknowledging the value of academic and community/practice based expertise the campus and community based knowledge brokers diffuse power and help collaborators to create new knowledge that is relevant to both community and academic partners.

Thanks so much to Jane Wedlock for her incredible role in our knowledge mobilization practice.

You can read all our peer reviewed publications posted in York’s institutional repository. And stay tuned to that space for our latest forthcoming article:

Phipps, D. J., Cummings, J. Pepler, D., Craig, W. and Cardinal, S. (2015). The co-produced pathway to impact describes knowledge mobilization processes. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, In press.

 

Welcome University of New Brunswick / L’Université du Nouveau-Brunswick parmi nous

On April 8, 2015 the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) Executive Leads committee made a conditional acceptance to the University of New Brunswick to become the 12th RIR university. On August 24, 2015, those conditions were met and we were pleased to welcome UNB as our newest RIR member.

Le 8 avril 2015, le comité directeur du RéseauImpactRecherche-ResearchImpact (RIR) avait accepté, moyennant certaines conditions, que l’Université du Nouveau-Brunswick devienne le 12e membre du réseau. Le 24 août 2015, les conditions étaient remplies, et c’est avec plaisir que le RIR accueille aujourd’hui son tout nouveau membre.

UNB logo

UNB has a long tradition of supporting knowledge mobilization. UNB leads the New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network (NBSPRN) which supports evidence-based public policy by bridging the gap between those making decisions, those conducting research, non-governmental organizations and New Brunswick citizens. NBSPRN envisions a New Brunswick that is a leader in evidence-based public policy development through Networked Governance. NBSPRN achieves this mission through knowledge mobilization connecting UNB researchers with public policy stakeholders from the public, private and non-profit sectors.

UNB also leads the Pond Deshpande Centre, a catalyst to grow and support a stronger culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the province of New Brunswick. It seeks to ensure that New Brunswick communities are the location of choice for aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs because they are start-up friendly and our post-secondary institutions have best in class entrepreneurship programming. Part of their work includes connecting UNB researchers and students to the social innovation and entrepreneurship community in New Brunswick.

Both NBSPRN and the Pond Deshpande Centre build on a track record of engaged scholarship and community engagement at UNB.

David Burns

David Burns

“UNB is delighted to join ResearchImpact”, says David Burns, VP Research for UNB. “We have already established our knowledge mobilization practices on campus by leading a number of entrepreneurship initiatives such as the NB Social Policy Research Network and the Pond Deshpande Centre which are helping us connect our campus to innovation and entrepreneurship across New Brunswick. We look forward to learning from the diverse knowledge mobilization practices of the ResearchImpact members across Canada and sharing our work here in New Brunswick.

UNB is an important university for RIR. UNB and the Harris Centre at Memorial University of Newfoundland are two of Atlantic Canada’s leading knowledge mobilization universities. This is as much a wonderful opportunity for RIR as it is for UNB.

RIR welcomed Nick Scott (Managing Director, NBSPRN) as RIR Director for UNB and Sasha McEachern-Caputo (Research Coordinator, NBSPRN) as RIR Knowledge Broker for UNB at our annual RIR meeting in St. John’s on September 10-11.

Wisdom About Community Campus Collaborations From Those Who Live Them / Sagesse des intervenants dans les collaborations entre l’université et la communauté

In one week I facilitated workshops on supporting awesome community campus collaborations with two very different non-academic audiences. The similarities are interesting, the differences intriguing. The method was fantastic.

Dans la même semaine, j’ai animé des ateliers sur les moyens de produire de remarquables collaborations entre l’université et la communauté, auprès de deux publics non universitaires très différents. Les ressemblances sont intéressantes, les différences, fascinantes. La méthode est tout simplement fantastique.

Lee Rose at CUExpo 2015The method doesn’t have a name, but I call it the CKX (Community Knowledge Exchange) method because that’s where I first participated in it. The CKX method has no power point slides. It has no “expert”. The facilitator engages participants in a 60 minute process to draw wisdom from the room. For 20 minutes participants pair off an interview each other with three pre-set questions. For the next 20 minutes pairs gather in groups of 4-6 and answer three questions:

  1.  Based on what you’ve learned in your 1-on-1 conversation, what are the 1-3 key ingredients for awesome community campus collaborations?
  2. If you had three wishes for what could be changed to engage in awesome community campus collaborations, what would they be?
  3. From this experience, what 1-3 actions could you or will you take to create a future in which enables awesome community campus collaborations?

Then there is a 20 minute report back collecting the key ingredients, the wishes and the actions. And there’s your wisdom. From the room. Not from a presumed “expert” but from participants reporting on their own experiences. See the discussion guide for this workshop- Community Campus Collaboration CKX Discussion Guide, April 2015

The cool thing is you can replace “community campus collaborations” for pretty much any subject and draw the expertise and wisdom from the room, so long as the participants have experience in the area. This is not a space for novices seeking to learn, but a space for practitioners seeking to share their expertise.

I used this method with the United Way Centraide Canada conference (May 21, 2015 in Saskatoon) where I co-facilitated with Janice Chu, Director of Community Investment, United Way Toronto and York Region. We did the workshop after making a 60 minute presentation on our eight year knowledge mobilization collaboration.

I also used this method at the C2UExpo (May 27, 2015 in Ottawa) where I co-facilitated with Lee Rose, CKX Sherpa for Community Foundations Canada. Their responses to the three questions are below:

Question United Way Centraide Canada C2UExpo
Key Ingredients Local representation from community and industry Authentic relationships (x2)
Not just about research Good communication (x2)
Relationships can’t be too rigid Transparency and trust (x2)
Capacity and commitment of all partners Shared vision (x2)
Shared/common vision (x7) Issues identified by community
Engage the students
Money and resources
Connection to UW campaign
Strong relationships at multiple levels
Tangible, relevant, applicable research
Presentation of research results in useful manner
Open and trusting relationships
Patience
Wishes Funding to implement the research findings (x2) Have authentic partnerships
Openness Make results accessible (x2)
Help to find out who’s who on campus i.e. a KMb function (x6) Research questions set by community (x4)
Paid resource, not off the side of our desks Clear and transparent communication
More common, accessible language (x2) Collaboration instead of competition
Researchers knowledgeable about their community More time for research and collaboration
Organic relationships Time and money to implement research findings (x2)
Champions who understand our culture Reward the time and efforts of community partners
Culture shift to recognize the importance of evidence informed decisions
Actions National research collaboration focused on poverty Engage more and better
Invite university to community tables Create a community collaboration incubation space
Build stronger relationships on campus Meet with partners regularly
Start conversations to get to know researchers
Strategic use of UW volunteers who are campus members
Create easy access to research outcomes as data/stories for donors
MOU with clear intentions

Some common observations, but nothing surprising:

Relationships: Combined there were 12 references to relationships. It is clear that if we are to support successful community campus collaborations we must pay attention to the authenticity of relationships and balance power, resources and different forms of knowing.

Shared vision: Combined there were nine references to a shared vision as an important pre-requisite to awesome community campus collaborations.

Communications: Combined there were eight references to effective communications including making the results of research accessible to end users.

Some interesting differences:

Only C2UExpo participants identified community as the source of research topics/questions. This is a given in community based research. The more “institutional” United Ways have a predefined set of research priorities so may have already determined the relevant research questions, although UW participants did identify tangible, relevant and applicable research as a key ingredient.

Only UW participants identified a knowledge mobilization function as either a wish or a key ingredient. This might be because their more institutional perspective can imagine such a function – indeed United Way York Region had Jane Wedlock, Community Engagement and Research Manager who was the community based knowledge broker partnered with York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. For more on this knowledge mobilization collaboration please see a paper we recently published.

One suggestion I found particularly compelling came from the United Way group, “Strategic use of UW volunteers who are campus members”. All our campuses run UW fund raising campaigns. All our campuses have UW volunteers (I am one!). Creating an on campus voice of UW volunteers is an interesting approach to creating more community campus conversations.

And finally, a note on the action desired by a C2UExpo participant: Create a community collaboration incubation space. A number of the ResearchImpact universities have such spaces including 1125@Carleton, Station 20 West (Saskatoon), 10 Carden St, (Guelph) and the Community Engagement Centre (Toronto).

There’s a whole lot of wisdom about community campus collaborations coming from the professionals and practitioners who are actively engaged in the work. Who needs an “expert” to make a presentation?  All you need is a facilitator and a great group of participants.

 

A Stranger in a (Not So) Strange Land / Étranger en terre (pas si) étrangère

In June 2015 I attended the Research Impact Assessment intensive course hosted by Alberta Innovates Health Solutions. Being a knowledge mobilization professional with little formal experience in evaluation I expected to feel like a fish out of water. Instead it was like discovering a home I never knew I had. Even down to the same furniture, except that same furniture was arranged slightly differently.

En juin 2015, j’ai assisté au cours intensif sur l’évaluation de l’impact de la recherche proposé par l’organisme de solutions en santé Alberta Innovates Health Solutions. Professionnel de la mobilisation des connaissances, mais peu rodé à l’évaluation, je m’attendais à patauger un peu. En fait, je me suis senti chez moi, comme si j’avais vécu là toute ma vie. Même les meubles étaient familiers, quoique disposés un peu différemment.

Banff 2015

Banff, Alberta. Such a beautiful setting to relax in before taking a four day deep dive into the minutiae of health research impact assessment (RIA). Because I have little formal experience in evaluation this intensive course was perfect, albeit a little daunting (ok…a lot daunting). After spending the weekend in Banff with my husband I sent him home and logged onto the course site to review materials. Included in the materials was a very detailed RIA planning tool. The tool walked you through purpose, goals, stakeholders, activities, indicators, communications, budget….all the things you need to do in order to plan your RIA. But wait…. purpose, goals, stakeholders, activities, indicators, communications, budget are all the things you need to also develop your KT plan. I have frequently used Melanie Barwick’s KT Planning Tool to support researchers and their partners planning for KT. More recently Anneliese Poetz (Manager, KT Core for NeuroDevNet) and I have adapted this tool and combined it with project management activities to create a hybrid KT planning and project management tool. So when I saw the similarities between RIA planning and KT planning I knew I would have a very interesting four days.

Throughout those four days I was struck by the similarities between KT planning and planning for RIA.

  • In the words of Kathryn Graham, Executive Director, Performance Management & Evaluation, AIHS, “the independent variable is KT, while the dependent variable is impact”. I actually had no idea this means that if research impact is “what” (or the effect) we are trying to accomplish then KT is “how” we will accomplish this, something I wrote in 2009.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: engaging stakeholders at the beginning and throughout is key to KT and RIA planning
  • Both RIA and KT planning should be guided by a theory of change / logic model / framework
  • That theory of change / logic model / framework will inform the indicators to be collected at each stage of the plan
  • Communicating impact ≠ KT. For more on this see a paper I published with Melanie Barwick
  • Need to balance the gold standard of what is possible given unlimited resources with what is possible to actually accomplish within the time and budget allowed.

However, here’s the thing that I never appreciated. Jonathan Grant, Professor, The Policy Institute at King’s College London, stated that evaluation needs to move more to the demand side, prospectively planning for impact. This got me thinking about the relationship between KT/KMb and RIA. KT planning happens at the beginning of a research project. RIA tends to happen at the end (ex post evaluation) but evaluators prefer to be brought in at the beginning (ex ante evaluation) so they can help plan for purpose, goals, stakeholders, activities, indicators, communications, budget.

Since KT planning happens at the front end and we consider purpose, goals, stakeholders, activities, indicators, communications, budget it occurs to me that KT planning is ex ante research impact assessment.

This is a very interesting hypothesis and likely requires unpacking and some debate before we make this conclusion; however, the similarity of planning tools, the similarity of aspects of each plan and the ideal of ex ante evaluation creates a compelling hypothesis. One thing I do know is that the more I work with Kathryn Graham the more I realize that we have complementary expertise to bring to a project. We look at a project through a similar lens but with different perspectives. If we were decorating the same room we would use the same furniture but arrange it slightly differently.

What Data Are the Right Data to Show That Public Research Works?

This article was written by Jane Barratt, Chair of the NCE Monitoring Committee, speaking about the need to move investments in research beyond academic impacts to supporting sustained economic, social and environmental benefits. To do this the NCEs will need to evaluate using methods “beyond traditional indicators such as patents, start-ups and publications”. This article is relevant for organizations seeking to support KT/KMb and the impacts of researcher. It was first posted by Re$earch Money on July 13, 2015 and is reproduced here with permission.

Research Money logoCanada is known worldwide as an innovative and thoughtful nation when it comes to studying public health interventions and their impact on current and future generations. The growing prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have a major impact on individuals and families, as well as our increasingly constrained health and social systems. Climate change is another issue that has captured the attention of governments and globally concerned citizens of all ages.

Establishing a connection, let alone a clear cause-effect relationship, between research and success in addressing emerging public health and environmental issues changes is difficult—but it is not insurmountable. Measuring economic, community and societal impact first requires a deep understanding of challenges that inevitably span several sectors and disciplines. It also requires appropriate and effective measures of success over both the short and long term

Accountability for federal (public) investments in research is essential to demonstrating effective economic policy and societal impact. It requires translating outcomes and outputs of research into meaningful messages and actions for multiple and linked stakeholder groups. It’s about maximizing impact vertically as well as horizontally.

Sometimes the impacts are obvious: new drug interventions, technological applications or products can be life-saving and profitable. In other cases, it can take several years, or even generations, to see the full social impact.

The Networks of Centres of Excellence have been living this reality for over 25 years. The NCEs support socially relevant research that will have long-term sustainable impacts. In short, we want to ensure that one of Canada’s most important research programs will result in all citizens leading healthier, happier and more prosperous lives.

Examples of “classic” NCEs include the Canadian Stroke Network, which introduced the ground breaking Canadian Stroke Strategy in 2006, putting state-of-the-art treatment protocols in the hands of health professionals across the country. Another NCE, ArcticNet, has developed impact assessments, adaption strategies and other tools that empower northern communities to promote health and sustainability. A Knowledge Mobilization NCE, PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence network) produces science-based resources for schools, parents and organizations like the Canadian Red Cross and Scouts Canada.
Our goal is to understand grassroots impact. How many lives have been saved through the Canadian Stroke Strategy and how much has it reduced healthcare costs? Are the tools developed by ArcticNet being adapted and adopted by other like-communities; and if so, what measurable difference are they making to the lives of people in those communities? Are children less likely to be subject to bullying or act as bullies themselves through the interventions of education?

PROOF OF IMPACT

In Canada and around the world, demand is growing for more accountability and proof of impact from publicly funded research. The NCE uses a variety of formal monitoring, reporting and evaluation tools to measure the relevance and performance of its various programs. A major new initiative was taken in 2011 with the formation of the NCE Monitoring Committee, which I have had the honour of chairing since its inception.

The committee was formed in response to a recommendation by an International Advisory Committee to shorten the funding cycles for NCEs (from 7 to 5 years) and to evaluate each network annually. This review uses data already captured in the networks’ regular annual reporting to the NCE, and allows for much faster assessment of impact. It also reduces each network’s administrative burden by eliminating mid-term reviews that can take up to a year to prepare.

The annual review allows networks to draw on the extensive experience of committee members—many of whom have successfully managed large research networks—to improve their governance, management, end-user engagement, priority setting, project selection, integration of trainees, intellectual property policies and other practices. The committee has brought a new level of rigour to evaluating the knowledge translation plans and the engagement strategies of each network to demonstrate value-added impacts.

The next step is to improve how we measure success, and this starts with measuring the right things. Over the past 26 years, 90 networks and centres have been funded and these entities have been influential in training more than 45,000 people—arguably Canada’s most valuable natural resource—and creating nearly 1,100 companies (143 spinoffs, 943 start-ups). What we don’t know is how many of those trained people have remained in Canada, how many companies continue to thrive and, if so, what have been the measurable social and economic impacts?

Increasingly, research funders are expanding beyond traditional indicators such as patents, start-ups and publications. While these indicators are important, they fail to help us understand the medium- to long-term impacts on society, the economy, human health and the environment.

The NCE and its networks are embarking on an ambitious project to develop improved indicators that capture the social innovation that is happening as a result of its programs. We hope to introduce these new indicators for the next NCE competition in 2019.

Thinking needs to begin now on what we want future networks to look like and what we want them to accomplish. Improving accountability is continually on our radar but, as part of that, we need to raise the profile of the NCE among the general public who pay for this research and will be its ultimate beneficiaries.

NCE networks are envied internationally for their success in bringing together all stakeholders—including world-class researchers, students, industry, policymakers and end-users—to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. These are issues that matter to Canadians today and for generations to come.

This is our responsibility and also our challenge.

Jane Barratt chairs the NCE Monitoring Committee and is the Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing.

Online Recruitment for Research Study on Knowledge Mobilization

Monica Batac, a graduate student, at Ryerson University is recruiting participants for a Q-study to assess priority competencies and skills for knowledge mobilization. Ryerson University’s Research Ethics Board has approved this study.

Diverse participants from academic and non-academic organizations are invited to complete the survey. Potential participants include knowledge mobilization researchers, knowledge brokers, intermediaries, and practitioners.

For more information, please visit the research study page here: http://flashq.rcc.ryerson.ca/mbatac/

The survey will close on Monday, July 27th, 2015.

Please direct any questions about the study to monica.batac@ryerson.ca

Preserving the Past / Préserver le passé

At the University of Victoria, the Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization unit (RPKM) is a campus and community-wide portal to support the development of transformative research. We bring outstanding researchers together with community partners to co-create knowledge for action –knowledge that is mobilized to improve the social, cultural and economic well-being of communities throughout our region and around the globe. Here’s a look at some of our projects with community partners in 2014.

À l’Université de Victoria, l’unité Partenariats en recherche et Mobilisation des connaissances (Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization unit, RPKM) est un portail ouvert aux gens du campus et de la communauté, destiné à soutenir et à renforcer la recherche transformatrice. Nous réunissons des chercheurs exceptionnels et des partenaires de la communauté afin qu’ils créent ensemble un savoir en action – un savoir mobilisé dans le but d’améliorer le bien-être social, culturel et économique des collectivités de notre région et du monde entier. Voici quelques-uns des projets en cours en 2014.

Preserving the past at UVic

Historic charge books are returned to police headquarters after being digitized at UVic

19th century police charge books offer rare glimpse into Victoria’s past.

Imagine a world where you could be criminally charged for merely looking suspicious, or speeding down the road on a horse. This was reality for Victorians living in the 1870s. Thanks to a unique collaboration between the University of Victoria, the Victoria Genealogical Society and the Victoria Police Historical Society, these historical accounts of local law enforcement are being preserved for future generations.

Partnering to preserve a piece of the city’s history, five 19th century charge books from the Victoria Police Department were loaned to the University of Victoria Library’s digitization unit. There, over 2,000 handwritten entries in the charge books were digitized and archived, many of which contain detailed, first-hand accounts of what life was like in Victoria nearly 150 years ago.

Through proper documentation and preservation, these entries will help us gain insight into an important chapter in Victoria’s history.

For more information, click here.

We Know So Much

Tabitha McGowan was the poet in residence at the UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum 2015 in at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Inspired by the 500 years history of the building and its library as well as some helpful hints from Google on the practice of medicine over the years, Tabitha listened for two days and presented this poem at the wrap up of the Forum. We are pleased to publish this poem with her permission. 

Tabitha McGowan était poète en résidence au Royal College of Physicians d’Édimbourg pendant le Forum sur la mobilisation des connaissances du Royaume-Uni de 2015. Inspirée par les 500 ans d’histoire de l’édifice et de sa bibliothèque, et par un coup de pouce de Google sur la pratique de la médecine au fil du temps, Tabitha a tendu l’oreille pendant deux jours. Lors de la clôture du Forum, elle a présenté ce poème, que nous publions ici avec sa permission.   

 

Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh

Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh

All Knowledge is Mobile: Royal College of Physicians, 2015

Tabitha McGowan 

1700

We know so much.

We know that miasma makes malaria,

That plagues are a punishment,

That an ill-humoured gentleman may be cured of his affliction by application of leeches and letting of blood,

And women should be watched for signs of Too Much Knowing as there is a fine line between learning and devilment.

So if in doubt, incinerate.

We know that we know as much as there is to know.

1800

We know so much.

We know that pustulent matter can prevent the pox,

That all cures can be found between alcohol and opium,

That scurvy can be broadsided by ingestion of limes,

And that knowledge should be captured and kept safe from the grasping hands of The Wrong Sort.

So if in doubt, isolate.

We know that there are others who know things we know to be false.

But we know that we know as much as we can know.

1900

We know so much.

We know that Knowledge is best owned and maintained by bewhiskered white men, for the good of the benighted masses,

That we can sanitise the human race,

That cocaine will cure your baby’s toothache,

And that hysteria can be fixed with good vibrations.

But if in doubt, incarcerate.

Now we know that we know more than we knew.

2000

We know so much.

We know that the mind can be unwrapped and mapped and if antibiotics can fix the physical, lobotomies can fix the mental,

That as one disease is dealt with another will take its place,

That there is a need for breeding to weed out the weak,

And if in doubt, eliminate.

We know we should know better.

Today

We know so little.

But we know that facts can act as traps for the mind,

That what we know today can be blown away with tomorrow’s news.

Today we sit under the gaze of the thinkers of their age, each convinced of the rightness of his universe,

Even as it shifted beneath his feet.

But if we know we know a little, each of us can throw our tiny fragments of imperfect wisdom into the crucible.

And if in doubt, collaborate.

We know the way.

 

About Tabitha

Tabitha McGowan is a writer of dark romantic fiction. She lives in the north east of England with a long-suffering husband and a surprisingly tolerant teenage daughter, as well as a small menagerie that currently includes three dogs, four cats, two ferrets, and a rabbit that’s allergic to being a rabbit. She has written professionally since graduating from university with a degree in Theatre Studies, and has worked as a scriptwriter for a theatre company, a writer-in-residence for the National Railway Museum and a copywriter.  She’s also a qualified teacher, and sings in a folk/acoustic band when not hunched, cursing loudly, over her laptop keyboard with a quadruple gin and tonic at her side.  Her hobbies include fire-breathing (yes, really…), and being a feminazi intent on destroying civilisation as we know it.

Her first novel, The Tied Man, was released in January 2013, and has been delighting/shocking/sickening readers (usually at the same time) ever since; she’s now working on ‘Unbound’, a sequel to The Tied Man, as well as planning the adventures – romantic and otherwise –  of the rather beautiful Immanuil and Tolly from her short story, ‘Healing’.

She can regularly be found on Facebook and Twitter (@Tabitha_McGowan), usually procrastinating wildly and providing links to cats doing amusing things, and blogs about her writing on Goodreads.