In the early days of the UVic Knowledge Mobilization Unit, a partnership was struck with the Vancouver Island Health Authority that would see the development of a “Research Help Desk”. This virtual help desk involved the soliciting and compiling of VIHA research needs by a Knowledge Broker within VIHA. The UVic Knowledge Broker then worked to identify a faculty or graduate student at UVic that could work with the VIHA practitioner to address the research need. This model sees practitioners and researchers working together, with the input and support of Knowledge Brokers, to address issues that practitioners would not otherwise have time, resources, or expertise to address.
This service began in December 2006 with two projects, and the Research Help Desk has since expanded to serve the needs of other research users, agencies, and government ministries.
The success of the Research Help Desk led to the development of an interdisciplinary graduate course structured around this model.
The first course (titled GS 500: Practicum in Community-Based Health Research) ran in September 2007. Seven graduate students were each matched up with a question coming from a practitioner in either VIHA or the BC Ministry of Health. The student then worked with the community practitioner over the semester to address the research need and develop a solution. The class met once a week under the supervision of a professor to discuss their progress and receive lectures on topics such as gaps in translation and transfer of knowledge, building partnerships, ethics, research methods, applying research to policy and practice, etc.
The BC Ministry of Environment has asked for a course using the same model for their practitioners, as has the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development. These courses are set to begin in September 2008 and January 2009, respectively.