#ShitDavidSays About Impact #5: Knowledge Hypocrites / Les idées de David sur l’impact, no 5 : l’hypocrisie en MdC

On February 1, 2012, David first wrote about knowledge hypocrites. The challenge that we are all knowledge hypocrites is as true today as it was almost 6 years ago.

Le 1er février 2012, David signait un billet au sujet de l’hypocrisie en mobilisation des connaissances. Presque six ans plus tard, son énoncé provocant selon lequel nous sommes tous des hypocrites de la MdC est toujours aussi vrai.

GoGo the cat sitting on a copy of the book Using Evidence


We are all knowledge hypocrites. I am a knowledge hypocrite. You probably are one also.

There is an evidence base to knowledge mobilization but are you reading it? Are you using it? Sandra Nutley (recently retired from the Research Unit for Research Utilisation at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland) wrote Using Evidence with her colleagues Huw Davies and Isabel Walters in 2007. For me this is a foundation text providing a deep and wide ranging review of the literature on how research is used to inform public services.

And it is still relevant today…because let’s face it…there really are no “eureka” moments in our field. We have learned much in the last 10 years but it is built on a foundation largely crafted by Sandra and her colleagues that she built on a foundation of pioneers in the field.

Have you read Evidence & Policy? You should. Sandra, Huw and their colleague Alison Powell told you so this year in a paper in Evidence & Policy (vol 13, no. 2: 201-213) titled “Missing in Action: the role of knowledge mobilisation literature in knowledge mobilisation practice”. They surveyed knowledge intermediary organizations to see who is basing their practice on the literature. They found we aren’t. We continue to be knowledge hypocrites.

What I mean by this is that KT/KMb researchers advocate that researchers make their research accessible in different formats and to actively facilitate the uptake of evidence in the context of its use…but they don’t (usually). There are few incentives and rewards for KT/KMb researchers to come to York’s KMb Unit and help us use their evidence in our practice. I recall one conversation I had with a KMb researcher in education. She never considered me an end user of her research even though I read all her work. She only thought that teachers were her end users.

But practitioners are also knowledge hypocrites. We tell policy and practice partners to engage with the evidence and reach out for research expertise in their field….but we don’t (usually). We often have neither the skills nor the time to read academic papers on KT/KMb. I try to give my KMb team one day/month to sit in the library but it always falls off their agenda because they are busy getting the job done. At performance review I don’t measure them on the number of articles they have read. I have not created incentives or rewards for them. I am a knowledge hypocrite.

That was the driver behind the Knowledge Mobilization Journal Club. In July 2011, I started a monthly on line journal club where I would post a summary of an academic article and make observations about the implications for knowledge mobilization practice. There are currently 67 journal club posts. It is a small attempt to close the loop between the scholarship and the practice of knowledge mobilization.

When we evaluated the journal club in 2016, we found it was highly valued by readers (“please keep it going even if we have to clone David”.

To over come the shame of being a knowledge hypocrite we need to build our skills for knowledge mobilization. My colleague Julie Bayley (@JulieEBayley) and I have recently published a competency framework for practitioners of research impact. Building our skills in both creating impacts (“how”) and in assessing impacts (“what”) will help us all build our research impact literacy, a concept that Julie and I are also building (see below).

So here’s my question: how will you build your impact literacy to avoid being a knowledge hypocrite?

Impact Literacy diagram

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