Reporting health research translation and impact in the curriculum vitae: a survey

Boland, L., Brosseau, L., Caspar, S. et al. Reporting health research translation and impact in the curriculum vitae: a survey. Implement Sci Commun 1, 20 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s43058-020-00021-9

 

Abstract 

Background: Increasingly, health researchers must demonstrate the impact and real-life applications of their research. We investigated how health researchers with expertise in knowledge translation report research translation activities and impact on their curriculum vitae (CV).

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of health researchers with expertise in knowledge translation as we anticipated best practices in CV reporting from this specialized group. Our survey asked participants about their reporting of research translation and impact activities on their CVs, intention to report, and barriers and facilitators to reporting such activities on their CVs. We calculated univariate descriptive statistics for all quantitative data. Linear regression models determined predictors of researchers’ intention to report research translation and impact activities on their CVs. We analyzed open-ended qualitative responses using content analysis.

Results: One hundred and fifty-three health researchers responded to the survey (response rate = 29%). Most respondents were Canadian, were female, and had a doctoral degree. Eighty-two percent indicated they reported at least one research translation and/or impact indicator on their CVs. Of those, health researchers commonly reported the following: advisory/regulatory committee membership related to research program (83%), research translation award(s) (61%), and academic performance assessments (59%). Researchers least commonly indicated the following: citation metric scores (31%), summaries of impact (21%), and requests to use research materials and/or products (19%). Fewer than half of the health researchers intended to report knowledge translation (43%) and impact (33%) on their CVs. Strong beliefs about capabilities and consequences of reporting research translation and/or impact were significant predictors of intention. Main barriers were as follows: CV templates do not include research translation and impact activities, participants perceived employers do not value research translation and impact activities, and lack of metrics to evaluate research translation and impact. Ninety-six percent were unaware of a CV template formatted to include research translation and/or impact reporting.

Conclusions: Knowledge translation and impact indicators on the CV are inconsistently reported by our sample of health researchers. Modifiable barriers should be addressed to support more consistent reporting of such activities, including providing a CV template that includes research translation and impact as well as clear metrics to quantify them.

 

This article describes the results of a survey of mostly Canadian KT associated researchers (n=153) who are reporting on how they include impact and KT in their CVs. As reported all the researchers were interested in strengthening integrated KT and knowledge utilization. This is important for my critique of this article.

Bottom line – as shown in abstract – many had reported some KT indicator on their CV but only 43% intend to report KT and only 31% intend to report impact on their CV.

There is much discussion on barriers including the lack of professional acknowledgement or reward for KT/impact (ie tenure and promotion doesn’t care about KT and impact) and the lack of examples of CV templates that embrace KT/impact activities.

Let’s address the second one first. There is a brief note “Software companies have also begun developing applications to evaluate research impact” with a footnote to Vertigo Ventures Impact Tracker. That’s old news to our colleagues in the UK for whom impact is a core feature of the Research Excellence Framework where every researcher is required to contribute to impact case studies for their institution. Research Fish is another on line impact tracker that is used by UK universities, research funders and also by Alberta Innovates. And finally, you don’t have to go to the UK. Proximify has the UniWeb CV product that not only has space for your KT, engagement and impact metrics but it also uploads to and downloads from the Canadian Common CV.

Now let’s return to the issue of lack of academic reward for KT/impact. The article concludes with, “Academe must evolve to better value research translation and support health researchers in adjusting to a shifting research landscape requiring demonstration of impact. As a first step, health researchers who participated in this study suggested that CV templates be expanded to include research translation and impact.” Again, taking the last sentence first, please see paragraph immediately above.

And with respect to “academe must evolve….”.  I entirely agree that the academy must evolve to better value research impact and KT, but…who is in charge of the academy but academics? Academics rise to become Deans, Vice Presidents Research and Presidents. Academics sit on Senates and Senate Committees that set tenure and promotion policies. Academics sit on collective bargaining teams where tenure and promotion can be negotiated. The academy is run by academics. If academics want the academy to evolve then stop saying it “must evolve” and make it happen.

 

Questions for brokers:

  1. Its time for academics to shut up about tenure and promotion and do something about it. Discuss.
  2. If KT researchers won’t lead the charge for developing a CV template that reflects KT then who will?
  3. Is it possible that an additional barrier might be that KT researchers aren’t actually doing much KT for their research? Who are the KT researchers that are doing a good job of connecting their KT research to KT end users? There are some, not many, but some.

 

Research Impact Canada is producing this journal club series to make evidence on KMb more accessible to knowledge brokers and to create online discussion about research on knowledge mobilization. It is designed for knowledge brokers and other knowledge mobilization stakeholders. Read this open access article. Then come back to this post and join the journal club by posting your comments

 

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