What Are Universities Doing for Social R&D? / Que font les universités pour la RD dans le domaine social?

David Phipps was invited to participate in a retreat to explore ways of introducing social research & development into Canada’s innovation policies. He reflected on the long tradition of university research and the relatively recent experience at partnering to develop that research into impacts on society. Thanks to Social Innovation

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Reinventing the Civic University

Goddard, J. (2009). Reinventing the civic university. http://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/reinventing_the_civic_university.pdf From the summary of this report done for Nesta, a U.K. innovation charity: In this provocation I argue that all publicly-funded universities in the UK have a civic duty to engage with wider society on the local, national and global scales, and to do

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What is Knowledge Mobilisation and Why Does it Matter to Universities?

The following story was written by David Phipps of RIR - York University and first appeared on the Guardian Higher Education Network's blog on March 9, 2012.  In this series of four guest articles, David Phipps, director of research services and knowledge exchange at York University, Toronto, Canada, writes about knowledge mobilisation;

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To Blog Or Not To Blog?

David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York) was pleased to be invited to guest blog for Science of Blogging, a science blog run by @TravisSaunders, PhD Candidate, Obesity Researcher and Certified Exercise Physiologist. His blog, below, was posted on May 4, 2011. Check out the blog rolls on Mobilize This! and Science of Blogging. Each is following the other but you’ll see a few other great science and knowledge mobilization blogs there as well.

Dear Professor, To blog or not to blog?  This is not a question that you should worry about…for now. You compete successfully in three peer review arenas: publishing, grant seeking and tenure & promotion (T&P).  These three are interdependent with success in one begetting success in another.  The three are built on the same assumption: that your peers are in the best position to critique and thus make awards of publications, of grants and of tenure.  This isn’t going to change dramatically in the near future, so please don’t fret over all this blogging stuff.  Your klout score is not about to sway your T&P committee.

But note that in Canada, at least, times they are a changin’ (♫)

Canadian research funding is dominated by three federal granting councils (SSHRC, CIHR and NSERC) all of whom are rolling out new funding programs with non-academics on the peer review committees.  As I mentioned in a previous blog some (admittedly only a few) peer reviewed journals are including non academics on their editorial boards.  Campus-community collaborations are increasingly recognized by T&P committees (especially when the university based scholar and his/her community partner receives a $1M Community University Research Alliance) and there is even a national alliance to examine academic reward and incentive structures for community engaged scholarship.

But you don’t have to worry about that…for now.  

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Re-imagining the ivory tower / Reconcevoir la tour d’ivoire

By David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York)

KMb is enhancing transparency and access to universities but as we work hard at engaging we remain struck in silos inside the ivory tower.

La mobilisation des connaissances accroît la transparence et l’accès aux universités. Toutefois, malgré le travail acharné que nous accomplissons en ce sens, nous demeurons prisonniers des silos à l’intérieur de la tour d’ivoire.

Recently I attended a curling bonspiel in Ottawa and because my team lost as soon as they could I ended up on twitter and saw this @fedcan tweet

Good morning all! We’re live blogging @fedcan‘s annual conference this morning at blog.fedcan.ca

The Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences (FedCan) was holding their Annual Conference,  which featured a talk by SSHRC President, Chad Gaffield. The theme of the conference was “The Humanities Paradox: More Relevant and Less Visible Than Ever?” and the title of Chad’s talk was “Re-imagining Scholarship in the Digital Age“, both of which had a theme of exploring the relevance of academic research outside of the academy. Chad’s talk was wide ranging but for anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing Chad speak as many times as I have his observations were familiar. They were all linked by the theme of “re-imagining”, imaging a new paradigm of scholarship that is emerging on campuses across Canada. Specifically, Chad spoke of re-imagining in three areas: teaching, research and campus-community connections.


  • The old “professor push” method of teaching is evolving into a student centred, inquiry based method of learning. Text heavy, power point slides are being replaced by image heavy and digital rich media. Students are exploring problems rather than being told solutions.


  • Researchers are pursing horizontal connections across different ways of knowing. This means that researchers are not only reaching out to other scholarly disciplines but they are embracing community, Aboriginal and other traditions of knowledge.
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To each reader, their research / Pour chaque lecteur, sa recherche

By Andrea Kosavic, York University Libraries

Guest blogger and York University Digital Initiatives Librarian, Andrea Kosavic, writes about “York Space”, a repository for academic research that researchers can use to enhance accessibility of their research outputs. By taking advantage of institutional infrastructure such as repositories, researchers can leverage technology to make their findings more visible and accessible to those who seek them.

Bloggueur invité et libraire à l’Université de York, Andrea Kosavic écrit à propos de “York Space”, un dépôt virtuel pour les recherches que les universitaires peuvent utiliser pour améliorer l’accessibilité de leurs résultats. En tirant parti de ce genre d’infrastructure institutionnelle, les chercheurs peuvent utiliser la technologie pour rendre leurs résultats plus visibles et accessibles.

The title of this post is a play on the second law of library science as proposed by S.R. Ranganathan, which is “Every reader, his or her book.” It appears to be such a simple and straightforward concept, but I will argue that it still merits our attention.

Working as a librarian in a university library I am often asked what steps an academic can take to make one’s research stand out and get noticed. Researchers are looking above and beyond leveraging the system of ensuring that their work is published in an influential peer-reviewed journal that is broadly indexed.

While I did recently find an article that exposed some rather twisted examples of how a crooked researcher can “game” their citation counts in Google Scholar, beyond these unscrupulous methods, what other options are there?

I recently experienced a real life example that brought some clarity to that question.

I had been suffering from acute head pain while flying, and was referred to a specialist. After ruling out other possibilities, the neurologist assured me that I was suffering from airplane descent headaches. Using those exact search terms, he found an article in Google that suggested some preventative strategies. Armed with the citation I confidently searched our catalogue only to discover that York University Libraries did not hold a subscription to the journal. This was an eye opening experience, where I realized what the public, who do not have the privilege of our wealth of resources, must be experiencing on a regular basis. I was able to call on my network of colleagues to retrieve the paper, but this experience helped to clarify the question of increasing research visibility.

If we want the best return on our research investment, we need to ensure that the research can be found where researchers, professionals, policy makers, and the general public conduct their searches.

Our research needs to be where our readers are.

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