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.

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

David Phipps (RIR-York) and Julie Bayley (Coventry University)

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

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

The presentations and discussions started NIHR and ARMC on a path to a shared vision of understanding impact of health research on patients. This was not their first shared event. On October 2015 they co-sponsored an event titled “Getting the Most Out of Clinical Research – which aimed to instigate more collaborative working between charities and the NIHR; examine areas where the charity sector and NIHR can work together and identify issues that require further work”. Clearly health research impact was one issue demanding some closer attention.

In preparing for this presentation, Mark Taylor, Director of Impact (such a cool title), at NIHR, asked for a critical appraisal of impact pathways to help government funders as well as medical research charities (large and small) take a critical approach to impact planning and impact assessment.

Pic of presentation slide


Julie Bayley (Coventry University and my ACU Fellowship partner) and I started from the premise that impact is a permanent feature of the research landscape whether through centralized research assessment exercises (such as the Research Excellence Framework in the UK) or as a function of the research grant application. We then developed five questions to guide critical appraisal of the pathways. Our questions and the pathways we appraised [Knowledge to Action Cycle (KTA), Payback Model, Co-produced Pathway to Impact (CPPI)] are in our presentation posted on slide share.

For the sake of argument we will put aside the fact that KTA isn’t a pathway to impact but a conceptual framework; however, it is mis-used as a pathway (especially in Canada) so we will continue that tradition of mis-use for the purposes of critical appraisal.

With so many ways to conceptualise impact, it can be difficult to determine how best to draw from these models in practice. So we devised a set of five questions to guide thinking, and identified how each model ‘scores’ in each category. The questions and scorecard (graded A to F) are:

  1. Does your impact pathway accommodate and enable collection of evidence for patient benefit?

In health research it is critically important that impact be patient centric and be measured as a benefit to patients, their caregivers and families. None of the pathways did this explicitly although each included an evaluation stage where patient benefit could be assessed. CPPI had “citizens served” as an ultimate impact so this could be read to be patients in a health research paradigm.


Payback: B


  1. Does your impact pathway support engagement of end users (incl. patients, policy, service providers) throughout?

This is hugely important because academic researchers only make an impact beyond the academy by engaging stakeholders and collaborating with end users and partners throughout the research process. KTA does not have any allowance for collaborators beyond the research space, in fact is explicitly separates the knowledge creation “funnel” from the action cycle. Payback doesn’t explicitly separate knowledge production from its use but it also doesn’t explicitly engage partners. CPPI is built on co production between researchers and partners throughout the pathway.


Payback: C


  1. Does your impact pathway Work at the level of the project, the program, the organization, the system?

This is of particular interest to the NIHR/AMRC collaboration on impact since they are seeking a common language that works for the +£1B NIHR and the small medical research charities that may be investing $£1-2M. KTA isn’t a pathway and doesn’t work for any single organization. A citation analysis of papers “using” KTA cited that the original authors of KTA never expected a single organization to operationalize the entire pathway. Payback is the basis for the Albert Innovation Health Solutions impact assessment framework that is used at the level of the research project and the research funding agency. CPPI has been used as a model for a single research project, and $4-6M/year Networks of Centres of Excellence such as NeuroDevNet as illustrated in our presentation.


Payback: A


  1. Does your impact model enable planning by providing general logic informing specific adaptation?

An impact pathway is just a model. It is just the start of your impact journey. Impact must be planned with specific goals, specific activities, and indicators specific to the research in question. The pathway provides the general logic but it must also guide specific implementation.  All three models are logic models that describe activities from research to impact, all three get a B…they would get an A if they could simplify the specific implementation but that’s the job of the pathway user be it a researcher, research user or a research funder.

  1. Does your impact model drive uptake/adoption?

Researchers don’t make products, their industry partners do. Researchers don’t make public policies, their government partner do. Researchers don’t usually deliver social services their community partners do. Therefore research must be taken up and adopted by partners from the private, public and non-profit sectors to have an impact on end users (i.e. patients). All three pathways have a dissemination moment. KTA has a transfer point from the knowledge creation stage to the action cycle (at the bottom of the funnel). Payback and CPPI both explicitly include dissemination; however, in CPPI dissemination is in collaboration with partners/end users so is more an engaged exchange instead of a unidirectional transfer.


Payback: B


Our goal of the presentation was to give the attendees these questions to take away as they begin to engage with impact pathways. We did not make any recommendations as to which pathway to choose as that will be influenced by deliberations ongoing between NIHR, AMRC and their stakeholders. It will also be influenced by the local context of the research and impact in question. But remember, choosing a pathway that makes sense for a particular context is just the beginning. Every pathway needs to be made specific and evaluated by collecting evidence on indicators that are specific to each stage of the pathway.

Impact Cousins, but Maybe Not (yet) Siblings / Cousins par l’impact, mais pas encore tout à fait frères…

A Canadian, a Brit, two Dutch and someone from Flanders went to Philadelphia for three days. We found an impact tribe, but one that turned out to be more diverse than anticipated.

Un Canadien, un Britannique, deux Hollandais et un Flamand s’en vont à Philadelphie pour trois jours. Au-delà de leur parenté certaine, ils se découvrent des différences plus importantes que prévu…

NABI logo

The National Alliance for Broader Impacts is a network of folks supporting the broader impacts arising from US National Science Foundation (NSF) grants. The NSF funds research and training in science & technology including some social sciences (but no humanities). Each grant application must have a “Broader Impact” section that describes how the research will have an impact beyond the impacts on scholarship. Sounds familiar? Like a SSHRC knowledge mobilization strategy or a CIHR KT strategy, right?

Well yes, and no.

According to NSF Broader Impacts (BI) can be one of nine categories:

  1. Full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
  2. Improved STEM education and educator development at any level
  3. Increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology
  4. Improved well-being of individuals in society
  5. Development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce
  6. Increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others
  7. Improved national security
  8. Increased economic competitiveness of the United States
  9. Enhanced infrastructure for research and education

The annual summit of the National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI, Philadelphia, April 20-22) is a place where BI is discussed, BI practitioners and supporters network and plans are shared for moving from individual supports to campus based BI offices. I learned that while NABI members share a goal of creating impacts of research beyond the academy, the concepts of impact are construed very differently from our work in Canada.

At the NABI conference the two primary modes of creating impact were “broadening participation” (Category 1, above) and engaging schools in science communications/outreach (Category 2). The vast majority of presentations at the NABI summit featured examples of outreach and engagement with schools. This was underscored by an NSF program officer telling the audience that what “sells well” for BI strategies in grant application is “engagement with schools, engagement with K-12 teachers, engagement with museums and/or archives”.

This certainly isn’t wrong but this is in contrast to the specific KT/KMb planning Canadian research impact practitioners undertake to create a specific impact pathway with specific indicators to include in a grant application’s KT/KMb section.

There were no examples of BI practitioners seeking to move beyond engagement to seek to influence change in policy, practice or product. While I understand that economic impact is welcomed as a BI strategy (see #8 on the list above), it was widely acknowledged that commercialization, technology transfer and entrepreneurship were not part of the NABI conversation and were managed by other offices on campus.

This doesn’t make NSF BI wrong or less important that KMb/KT efforts. The US experience is being driven by NSF policy directives which privilege broadening participation and science outreach. The U.K. experience is being driven by the Research Excellence Framework that seeks to assess the impact of University research in all disciplines. The Canadian KT/KMb experience is being driven by funders such as CFHI (formerly CHRSF), CIHR, and the Health Charities that have a mission to create impacts of research on health services, clinical practice and patient benefit. The Canadian Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences has defined impacts to include impacts on the economy, on society/culture and on practice/policy.

Different goals from different funders will drive differences in impact cultures and practices.

It was our differences not our similarities that made the NABI conference interesting. In the way that Canadian and UK research impact practitioners are related (see an earlier post about the UK/Canada comparison), I went to NABI expecting to find some new impact siblings. But instead I found research impact cousins, not as close in practice as impact siblings. With a focus on broadening participation, a focus on STEM and outreach to schools, the NABI experience is quite different from the Canadian research impact experience.

But this is a relatively new field for the US. Most BI practitioners work as sole practitioners in their project, school, unit or Faculty. There are no more than a handful of institutional BI offices in all of the US (see the BI Network at U Missouri as an example) and none more than a few years old. NABI itself is in its fourth year. This is in contrast to the 10 years of experience in ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR). The Harris Center, (Memorial University of Newfoundland) and the Community University Partnership Program (University of Brighton) are both well past their 10 year anniversaries.

Nonetheless NABI and RIR have a lot to learn by continuing to build on this relationship. To that end, Susan Reno (U. Missouri BI office and head of NABI) is attending the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum (Toronto, June 28-29). Some NABI personnel are attending the UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum (London, May 10-11). Susan is also coordinating a group of impact cousins from University of Ghent (Flanders/Belgium), Leiden University (Netherlands), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Cathy Howe (UKKMbF), and me representing Canada/RIR.

This group will sow the seeds of an international knowledge mobiliz(s)ation community. Some will be siblings. Some will be cousins. All will be better off sharing and broadening our own participation in impact whether it is school engagement and/or policy influence.

Stakeholder Engagement for Research Uptake / La participation des intervenants dans l’exploitation de la recherche

Last updated in 2013 (so not new, but new to me), DFID UK has produced a guide to aid in research uptake. This guide helps researchers work with stakeholders to maximize the opportunities for research to be taken up and used by organizations making new products, developing policies and/or delivering services. Using this guide will help facilitate stakeholder engagement to enable research uptake.

Le ministère du Développement international du Royaume-Uni, le DFID, a mis à jour en 2013 (pas franchement nouveau, mais pour moi, oui) un guide pour faciliter l’exploitation des travaux de recherche. Ce guide aide les chercheurs à collaborer avec les intervenants, dans le but de maximiser les occasions d’utiliser la recherche dans la fabrication de nouveaux produits, l’élaboration de politiques ou la prestation de services. Grâce à ce guide, on aura plus de facilité à convaincre les intervenants d’exploiter activement les résultats de la recherche.

We all know (or we all should know) it is important to engage end users (especially lived experience) upstream in the research program. How else do you know your research is going to help meet the needs of people who can benefit from the policies, products and services that are enabled by your research?

The private sector calls this consumer driven design.

Communicators always advocate knowing your audience.

Knowledge mobilizers call this stakeholder engagement.

There is literature on stakeholder engagement (see KMb journal club post). There are methods like the policy dialogue (see another KMb journal club post). Jonathan Weiss (CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research, York University) embeds stakeholder engagement in the work of his Chair and reports annually on his efforts (see his 2014 Annual Report as an example).

But where is the help to help the rest of us?

A researcher in the NeuroDevNet network recently forwarded a guide for research uptake. Research uptake is that moment when a non-academic research partner seeks to take the results of the research in house to inform decisions about their own policies, products and services. This is a critical step in mediating the pathway from research to impact. And effective stakeholder engagement can facilitate this moment of uptake.

Thanks to DFID (UK Department for International Development) this guide book and checklist (yes, there is even a checklist!) are posted at:

DFID Research uptake figure

Image taken from page 2 of the guide

As instructed by this guide, effective stakeholder engagement has four stages each with three or four activities described in each stage:

  1. Stakeholder engagement: working through informal networks and mapping out and connecting with relevant stakeholders
  1. Capacity building: not all non-academic research partners have the capacity to take up research evidence. Building capacity for end user uptake is an important element…but is this the job of the researcher or possibly for allied intermediary organizations?
  1. Communicating: synthesizing results, planning communications and publishing research results in accessible formats are all important to facilitate research uptake.
  1. Monitoring and Evaluation: create a logic model including indicators to measure progress at each stage, gather data and feedback results into your research and research uptake processes.

DFID provides a note on advocacy and influencing decisions in partner organizations. DFID “encourages programs to foster evidence informed discussions of research evidence and to encourage decision makers to make use of the full range if research evidence on a given topic. However, research programs should not be lobbying for particular policy changes based on their research results.”

Really? I believe research institutions need to strive for neutrality but researchers themselves are often highly invested in a particular policy position. Why else do media channels ask academic researchers to comment on government positions? While research methods strive to remove bias from the evidence, that unbiased evidence is not necessarily value free from the researcher’s perspective.

And a note to ResearchImpact-Réseau Impact Recherche universities and other institutions with a knowledge mobilization mandate…. we don’t have discipline specific stakeholders but we do have institutional stakeholders such as United Way, community associations, municipal and provincial partners, Chambers of Commerce, etc. These institutional stakeholders should be part of our own stakeholder engagement efforts.

Thanks to Anneliese Poetz, Manager KT Core, NeuroDevNet for passing this along and for writing about her own tips for stakeholder engagement on the NeuroDevNet Blog, KT Core-ner.

CommunityBUILD Launches the Social Venture Pipeline Accelerator Program for Social Entrepreneurs

This post originally appeared in YFile on April 6, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Innovation York announces that communityBUILD, an ongoing collaboration between York University, Seneca College, ventureLAB, United Way Toronto and York Region, has launched a new Social Venture Pipeline initiative to help budding social entrepreneurs in York Region build their social venture ideas into companies.

communityBUILD’s mission is to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem by addressing important social issues in York Region and beyond. The new Social Venture Pipeline initiative is now accepting applications to join the program beginning in May 2016.  The program consists of a four and one half month accelerator followed by a three month incubator for social ventures near to launching their solutions to market.

Robert Hache

Robert Hache

“communityBUILD finds ways to engage social entrepreneurs who are focused on addressing major social issues, whether on a local or global scale,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “Entrepreneurs who are accepted into the Social Venture Pipeline program will benefit from research expertise and mentorship, as well as opportunities to learn more about social issues important to York Region.”

The Social Venture Pipeline initiative is a program that arose from York’s partnerships with United Way Toronto, York Region and ventureLAB, the York Region’s Regional Innovation Centre and Seneca College. communityBUILD’s unique collaboration connects the strengths of university and college research with entrepreneurship and the lived experiences of members of the York Region community.

David Phipps

David Phipps

“For more than 10 years, York University and the United Way have been working together to help to advance social innovation.  Our collaborative expertise in this area helps distinguish the Social Venture Pipeline initiative from other supports for social enterprises in Ontario,” said David Phipps, executive director of research & innovation services at York University.

The goal is for entrepreneurs to merge the social impacts with business acumen to turn their social venture ideas into growing and emerging businesses. The Social Venture Pipeline program builds on the programming offered through the communityBUILD Social Innovation Mash-Up competition in 2014.

Innovation York helps bring innovative research and discoveries to market by connecting industry partners and other entrepreneurs with researchers and students. The organization provides access to resources and information, and creating a vibrant and engaged research community for start-ups to be successful and enabling social innovation.

Applications for the Social Venture Pipeline are due on April 15. For more information or to register, visit:

Writing a Provisional Patent Application from a Student’s Perspective

Written by Jack Bauer.

York Region District School Board (YRDSB) was one of York University’s first Knowledge Mobilization partners in 2006. Ten years later, six YRDSB high school students attended a patent workshop as part of York’s programming for entrepreneurship, Launch YU. Three grade 12 students (Alicia, Jake, Kanav) and three grade 10 students (Bronx, Lei Lei, Mingze) were part of a growing collaboration between York University and YRDSB on entrepreneurship. Making connections between high school and university students supports engagement between York University and its local communities. Thank you to Jake Bauer for writing this post.

LaunchYU March 7, 2016

As the only high school students present, we felt unique and truthfully a little out of place at first sitting at the very front of the room at the LaunchYU Write Your Own Provisional Patent Application seminar on March 7. I was part of a group of six York Region District School Board secondary students who travelled to York University to sit in on this seminar.

The seminar was mostly geared towards people in university, people with previous entrepreneurial experience or people who had an idea and wanted to learn about the process to get it patented.  As everyone was going around the room introducing themselves, our only reaction was “Wow.” People from all walks of life were there. There was someone who had started previous companies and had a patent certificate with him. There was someone who worked on mass spectrometers and someone who worked in the biotechnology industry. Sitting right beside us was an accountant in a PhD program at York University. To us this was almost surreal; to be surrounded by incredibly smart and accomplished people while we were still in high school and still wondering about how to enter the “real world.”

We attended this seminar because of our own interest in getting our ideas out to the public and what was involved in making sure they were protected. We can definitely say that we learned a lot about patents and the many things that could go wrong during the patent creation process. The presenter, Andrew Currier of PCK Perry + Currier, was very friendly, funny and open to answering all the questions that people had, which made the seminar seem very personal and close rather than a session to absorb information.

One of the things that stood out was that, regardless of whether or not we would personally go on to need a patent, we learned a lot about how to properly and effectively express ideas so that they could be clearly understood by someone who has no clue about your idea or invention. We also learned how much money it would take to get a patent approved.

Opportunities like these are not often openly accessible to high school students; we heard about this through our principal because York Region District School Board is working with organizations like LaunchYU to try to make events like this more accessible. We are glad to have been part of the first steps towards opening up opportunities like this to other students in high school because it would make an unimaginable impact if every student took advantage of opportunities like these.

Thank you to David Phipps, Executive Director of Research & Innovation Services at York University for offering us this opportunity to share our experience through his blog.

CommunityBUILD: Social Venture Pipeline

This week’s guest post comes from ventureLAB

Applications are now open for the Social Venture Pipeline!


To improve the success of social ventures in getting to launch and accessing funding and investment.


VentureLab logo horz 4CThe Social Venture Pipeline is program of the communityBUILD initiative. It is a curated pathway for those ventures approaching launch into market and revenue generation consisting of a 4.5-month Accelerator program followed by a 3-month Incubator. Participants will be supported to move their businesses forward to launch through education, networking and mentoring provided by communityBUILD’s expert mentors.

Read more and apply now!

My Journey From Bench to Broker / Du lab de sciences au courtage de connaissances : mon itinéraire

The e-book, Career Journeys: Leaders share different career journeys in research administration (PDF), is one of six fabulous publications in the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) bookstore and presents the diverse career journeys of 11 different research administrators. It is a great resource for those wanting to learn about the myriad of career specialties within our profession. The ebook may be purchased on this page, toward the bottom:

Le livre électronique intitulé Career Journeys: Leaders share different career journeys in research administration (« Carrières au long cours. Parcours professionnels particuliers de leadeurs en gestion de la recherche », en format PDF), est l’un des six fabuleux ouvrages proposés dans la librairie de l’Association canadienne des administratrices et des administrateurs de recherche (ACAAR). On y présente les parcours professionnels très diversifiés de onze gestionnaires de recherche, personnalités reconnues de leur domaine. C’est une ressource formidable pour les personnes qui désirent connaitre la pléiade de spécialités qui existe au sein de notre profession. Vous pouvez vous procurer le livre en cliquant sur le lien qui se trouve un peu plus bas sur cette page :

Bench to Broker

This story was also a webinar for CARA delivered on February 3, 2016. Slides from that webinar may be found in Slide Share.

I wanted to be a vet when I was a kid. Then I wanted to be a doctor (which a vet friend once told me is just species specific veterinary medicine). Apart from one year where I decided to pursue music as a profession (I was a flute player playing in local orchestras) and one summer I took off my PhD to dance at Canada’s Wonderland (1989…Dancing in the City…which you CANNOT find on You Tube) science always underpinned my career choices.

I got into UofT Med School and turned them down because I was finishing my PhD. I deferred my acceptance to McMaster Med School so I could finish my PhD. When I did complete it in 1990, I turned down McMaster because I had all three of my post doc applications funded: NSERC, MRC, NHRDP (National Health Research & Development Program…funding most of the HIV research in Canada). I started my NHRDP post doc in 1991 working at the Toronto Hospital (Western Division). Fast forward 5 years and two more post docs (funded by Toronto Hospital and MS Society of Canada) and I was an inventor on what might have been a novel marker of HIV infection.

We disclosed that to the Toronto Hospital who referred us to the University of Toronto Innovation Foundation (their tech transfer office) who took on the technology as one of their commercialization projects.

It wasn’t a commercial success but that experience of being an inventor and seeing technology transfer gave me the inside track when a job opened up at the Innovations Foundation. I left the lab and started a career of managing research (and managing researchers…not an easy task) rather than doing research. A question I always ask of PhD scientists applying to a research admin job is “How do you think you will feel being among research but not doing it?”

From Manager of Biotechnology and Life Sciences at Innovations Foundation (1996-1999) to Director of Business Development at the Canadian Arthritis Network (1999-2001) to Director of Partnerships at CIHR (2001-2003) I landed at York as Director of Research Services, now Executive Director of Research and Innovation Services 12 years later.

My experience at the Canadian Arthritis Network was pivotal in forming the research management professional I am today. I was a tech transfer guy. Day 4 on the job I am meeting with researchers providing and researching community based arthritis care. There I was talking about patents and technology licensing and “bench to bedside” because that is all I knew. But in my naiveté (or arrogance) I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. Elizabeth Badley (Princess Margaret Hospital) called me on my narrow view of the world of research impact pointing out that many of their patients never saw a traditional hospital bed side as they were treated in community. Those researchers didn’t think bench to bedside but “chromosome to community”.  That comment started stretching my thinking about impacts of research beyond commercial relationships with industry.

That led me to reconfigure how we assigned “value” to funding applications recognizing the potential impacts on clinical practice, social services and public policy as well as creating the potential for commercial value. That helped me support a partnership at CIHR between CIHR, IDRC, CIDA and Health Canada that became the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research that is still running today. That experience allowed me then to work with DFAIT partners to craft language that became Section 6.4 of the 2002 Africa Action Plan of the 28th G8 Summit hosted in Kanaskis, Alberta.

And then, at York, we were able combine my experience brokering external research collaborations with York’s bench strength in socially engaged scholarship to create the Knowledge Mobilization Unit in 2006 that has become a national leader with an international reputation for providing institutional knowledge mobilization services.

Now York is leading ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche, Canada’s knowledge mobilization network consisting of 12 universities investing in institutional knowledge mobilization and related services and I am off to spend December 2015 at Coventry University as a Fellow of the Association of Commonwealth Universities to work on competencies of knowledge brokers. All this from one moment on a Friday afternoon in 1999 when Elizabeth Badley made me think about chromosome to community.

Some reflections on my job journey:

  1. Be your own best advocate. The job at Innovations Foundation hadn’t been advertised. In fact it wasn’t even available. I knew the opening was coming up and I spoke to the President of the Innovations Foundation about the job before it was even open.
  2. Don’t be afraid of hoping from job to job in the early years to gain broad, but increasingly senior, experience. I didn’t stay in any job longer than 2.5 years until I hit York and have been there for 12 years.
  3. Don’t necessarily accept the first job they offer you. Many people think it is important to negotiate salary. That will never get you more than a few thousand dollars more than the first offer. Think of negotiating on the roles offered. I was offered grants and contracts at York. I negotiated in technology transfer. I got a broader work experience and aligned the role to fit my area of expertise.
  4. Be innovative with your research administration and management roles. Think of new ways to do things. Recognize opportunities for growth of your portfolio. Knowledge mobilization didn’t exist at York and barely existed anywhere before we developed the institutional vision.

The Collaborative Process Behind McMaster’s Guide to Collaboration…. / La démarche collaborative derrière le guide de McMaster sur la collaboration…

One of the challenges for community members wishing to access university expertise is that it’s hard to find the way in.  “There’s no front door,” people tell us.

So, in April 2015, a small group of collaborators from McMaster and the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton decided to create not so much a front door to McMaster University, but a map.  Ideally, the map would help people find the kind of research collaboration they were looking for, and then negotiate the terms of that relationship once they’d found it.  The result was the just-released Paths to Research Collaboration: a Guide to Working with McMaster Researchers, online hereIn this blog post, we share with you some of our process, and highlights from our own collaborative experience.

Pour les membres de la collectivité souhaitant profiter de l’expertise qui fleurit dans l’université, l’une des difficultés consiste à savoir par où entrer. « C’est comme s’il n’y avait pas de porte ! » est une remarque qui revient souvent.

C’est pourquoi, en avril 2015, un petit groupe de collaborateurs de l’Université McMaster et le Conseil de la planification sociale et de la recherche (Planning and Research Council) de Hamilton ont décidé non pas de percer une porte, mais plutôt de tracer une carte pour se retrouver dans l’Université. Idéalement, cette carte devait aider les gens à trouver le type de collaboration dont ils ont besoin en recherche, puis à négocier les paramètres de la relation une fois qu’ils l’auraient trouvée. Le résultat est la parution toute fraiche de Paths to Research Collaboration: a Guide to Working with McMaster Researchers (« Les chemins de la collaboration avec le milieu de la recherche, un guide pour travailler avec les chercheurs de l’Université McMaster »), disponible en ligne ici. Dans ce billet, nous vous présentons certaines de nos façons de faire, de même que les aspects les plus frappants de notre expérience collaborative.


We began by pulling together a small group of people from local business and non-profit organizations who’d previously collaborated with McMaster, with the single goal of figuring out what such a map should look like.  To aid this process, we provided participants with guides produced by other universities, and invited everyone to identify what they liked and didn’t like about each.  Responses were sharp, critical, concise, thoughtful.  Participants told us exactly what not to do, and gave us a good start on what to do better.   Thus began a 3-month process of drafting, re-connecting, revising, re-connecting, and revising again.  It was a fantastic process, and a great example of what happens when creative and knowledgeable people put their heads together to do work that matters.

Ailsa Fullwood, Research Facilitator, Faculty of Social Sciences, McMaster University

Working on this project brought to mind a famous quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Now, I don’t know that we are going to change the world, but we made some small steps to help Hamiltonians and university researchers work together! That’s a good thing! While we were taking those steps on our journey toward developing Paths to Research Collaboration, I was reminded that not only what we say but how we say it reflects our attitudes and assumptions.  I really looked forward to our meetings in the community and was excited about the toolkit we were creating together.  I felt like a citizen of my city; collaborating with other citizens who happened to work either in the community or at the university. That shift was a nice surprise.

Karen Szala-Meneok, Resident, Ainslie Wood neighbourhood and Senior Ethics Advisor, McMaster University

It was wonderful to be a part of such a collaborative and useful community project. Building community-friendly research resources such as the guide for local providers will really help with making research accessible for a lot of folks. What a great contribution.

Ashley Ward Clinical Services Development Consultant, Human Resources & Organizational Development, Mission Services of Hamilton

When I opened the finished toolkit and saw how well put together it was I was very happy.  And it wasn’t the beautiful paper or the crisp printing that I liked.  It was how clear and focused each step seemed.  I really feel that this toolkit will make it easier for everyone to connect with people at the university for whatever they need.  And that will make it easier for us to share our knowledge and resources with our communities.

Sandra Preston, Director of Experiential Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, McMaster University

Canadian Science Policy Fellowship / Bourse pour l’élaboration de politiques canadiennes

The call for applications opens February 17, 2016, and closes March 31, 2016 at 5 p.m. PDT.  Fellowships begin in September 2016 and last for 12 months.

L’appel de candidatures débute le 17 février 2016, et prend fin le 31 mars 2016 à 17 h (HAP).  Les stages, d’une durée de 12 mois, commenceront en septembre 2016.

MitacsAbout the fellowship

Mitacs is committed to fostering policy leadership among Canada’s researchers. We have worked closely with the academic research and policy communities to identify ways to integrate academic research and evidence-based policy-making at the federal level. Mitacs and its partners are pleased to introduce the result of this collaboration, the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship.  

The fellowship helps government develop policy with advice from respected professors and postdoctoral scholars and will strengthen ties between the public sector and academia. The first of its kind in Canada, the fellowship is offered in partnership with the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP), Mitacs’ university partners, and the Government of Canada.

The inaugural cohort of 10–12 fellows will be matched with federal host departments or agencies in Ottawa, where they will contribute to policy design, implementation, and/or evaluation.  Matches will align each fellow’s background and expertise with the identified needs of the host department.

The fellowship aims to:

  • Form mutually beneficial and robust relationships between government decision-makers and academic researchers in support of pressing policy challenges in Canada
  • Enhance science communication, collaboration, and policy capacity within government departments and agencies
  • Develop a network of external expertise in Canadian science policy that complements existing capacity within the public service

Click here for more information.


MitacsAu sujet de la bourse

Mitacs s’est engagé à favoriser un leadership en matière de politiques parmi les chercheurs canadiens. Nous avons travaillé en étroite collaboration avec les milieux des politiques et de la recherche universitaire pour trouver des façons d’intégrer au niveau fédéral l’élaboration de politiques reposant sur des données probantes et la recherche universitaire. Mitacs et ses partenaires ont le plaisir de lancer le fruit de cette collaboration, la Bourse pour l’élaboration de politiques canadiennes.

Cette bourse a pour but d’aider le gouvernement à élaborer des politiques en tirant profit des conseils de chercheurs postdoctoraux et de professeurs respectés, et renforcera les liens entre le secteur public et le milieu universitaire. Première initiative du genre au Canada, cette bourse est offerte en partenariat avec l’Institut de recherche sur la science, la société et la politique publique (ISSP) de l’Université d’Ottawa, des universités partenaires de Mitacs et le gouvernement du Canada.

Les 10 à 12 participants de la cohorte inaugurale seront jumelés à des organismes ou des ministères d’accueil du gouvernement fédéral à Ottawa où ils participeront à l’élaboration, à la mise en œuvre et/ou à l’évaluation de politiques.   Chaque participant sera jumelé en fonction de son expertise et de ses antécédents, ainsi que des besoins soulevés par le ministère d’accueil.

Le programme de bourses vise les objectifs suivants :

  • établir des relations solides et mutuellement avantageuses entre les décideurs du gouvernement et les chercheurs universitaires à l’appui des défis urgents que doit relever le Canada en lien avec les politiques;
  • améliorer la capacité des ministères et organismes du gouvernement en matière de communications, de collaboration et d’élaboration de politiques;
  • mettre sur pied un réseau d’experts externes en sciences politiques canadiennes pour renforcer la capacité actuelle de la fonction publique.

Cliquez ici pour voir plus d’informations.