Knowledge Mobilization’s Crystal Ball / la boule de cristal de la mobilisation des connaissances

On Tuesday June 19 David Phipps (RIR-York) gave a keynote address to the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum 2012. He predicted where the field would be in 2017.
Le mardi 19 juin, David Phipps (RIR-York) faisait une présentation lors du Forum Canadien sur la mobilisation des connaissances de 2012. Il a prédit ce que serait ce champ en 2017.
Where will knowledge mobilization be in 5 years? It’s tough to say but there are some themes that repeat at every conference, conversation and community of practice. These common themes are going somewhere, but will their journey be complete by 2017?  These are David’s predictions:

  1. Knowledge mobilization as a profession: None of us grew up wanting to be a knowledge broker but increasingly we are seeing roles such as Manager of Knowledge Mobilization, Knowledge transfer Specialist, Knowledge Broker not only in large scale research projects but in research institutions as well. Crystal Ball says: Yes, we will see knowledge brokering acknowledged as a profession in 2017.
  2. Professional training for knowledge brokers: In the US there are accredited courses for technology transfer and research administration run by AUTM and SRA, their respective professional associations. There are individual courses for knowledge mobilization such as those run by Kathleen Bloom (U. Waterloo) and the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at UVic. Waterloo also runs a Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation and Melanie Barwick runs the only university accredited course called the Knowledge Transfer Professional Certificate. Crystal Ball says: sort of. We will continue to see individual courses developed in topics related to knowledge mobilization but we may not see a full curriculum leading to professional designation.
  3. Social Media: 15-20 years ago IT folks had to develop a business case to convince corporate leaders to invest in an enterprise e mail system. Today e mail is a fact of life (unfortunately). Many of us are now using social media as a broadcasting tool and a large portion are also using it as a listening tool. We are now starting to figure out how to use social media as a tool for engagement but we’re not there yet. These trends will accelerate. Crystal Ball says: not in 5 years but in 5-10 years social media will become an everyday tool to support research engagement.
  4. Systems and networked knowledge mobilization: Sandra Nutley and colleagues have written that research utilization will grow from individual project level efforts to system level efforts operating in networks of knowledge mobilization. We are already seeing this in initiatives like ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche, K*, KT Canada and the KTE Community of Practice. Crystal Ball says: yes, we will increasingly operate within systems and networks of knowledge mobilization.
  5. KT, KMb, KTE, KTT, KI, KM, K*, Engaged Scholarship:  I am on record as choosing to not engage in this debate. Words matter. Intensions and actions matter more. Crystal Ball says: no. We will not have a single term for all of our related activities.
  6. Evaluation: Under the leadership of the Institute for Work and Health we undertook a systematic review of tools to evaluate knowledge transfer and exchange. We started with 9998 articles and identified only 54 that described quantitative tools. Of the studies that did provide measurement properties only five provided a minimum indication of reliability and validity. Almost 10,000 articles and only five pointed in the right direction. Crystal Ball says: no. Our practices span from relationship building to implementation science. From poverty to climate change to water. We will not have an easy way to articulate return on investment in knowledge mobilization by 2017.
  7. Evidence informed knowledge mobilization practice: We are all knowledge hypocrites. Researchers don’t connect to practitioners and practitioners don’t connect to research. Much. But that’s changing. Initiatives like the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum create a venue where knowledge mobilization researchers and practitioners can begin to build their own bridge between research and practice. Crystal Ball says: yes. Finally.

The Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum is a landmark event for knowledge intermediaries in Canada. Peter Levesque, the driving force behind the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum describes the rationale behind the Forum on his website. “Knowledge Mobilization has seen a significant growth over the past decade.  There are more organizations engaged in active knowledge mobilization efforts.  There are more people with knowledge mobilization as their profession. Research efforts to understand and optimize knowledge mobilization practice have accelerated and are attracting more resources.  It is now time to come together to share both the science and art of knowledge mobilization.  The Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum will provide access to some of the best minds and most creative practitioners in the field.”
Thanks to Peter and the Forum for allowing me to gaze into the crystal ball.  Come back in five years and we’ll see if the crystal ball was accurate.