Revolutionising How Researchers Connect With the Public / La mobilisation des connaissances à l’UQAM : rapprocher les chercheurs des besoins des publics utilisateurs

Dr. Catherine Mounier, Vice President of Research and Creation at l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), recently described to British journal International Innovation how projects developed at UQAM are helping to improve the scientific and social impact of research by strengthening the links between researchers and the public.  
La vice-rectrice à la recherche et à la création de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Madame Catherine Mounier, explique dans un article scientifique qui est récemment paru dans la revue britannique International Innovation, les projets que l’UQAM élabore actuellement de manière à améliorer les impacts scientifique et social de la recherche en consolidant les liens entre les chercheurs et les publics utilisateurs (version en anglais).
UQAMCatherine Mounier
DECEMBER 18, 2015
The Université du Québec à Montréal is working to improve the impact of its research, both scientific and social, on those it was designed to help through closer engagement between researchers and end users
Getting knowledge on the move
There has long been a discord between academic researchers and those downstream of their work. Often, researchers lament that the general public just does not understand what they are doing, and reciprocally, the general public often accuses researchers of locking themselves away in ivory towers. Indeed, building a successful, long-lasting and fruitful relationship between those on the inside of a university’s walls with those on the outside can seem like a daunting task.
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) is breaking down this divide by acting as a bridge between the two parties and by creating a framework through which potential users of academics’ work and the academics themselves can join forces. They are achieving this feat using the concept of knowledge mobilisation.
The principle behind knowledge mobilisation is to maximise the contribution of social, economic, art, health and environmental research to society and to create an understanding between academic researchers and those downstream of their research’s applications – be those community members, industry members, governmental officials or people somewhere in between. Proponents of knowledge mobilisation insist that in order for research to have true impact on society, there must be a focus on communication, relationship building and shared learning experiences as early on in research as possible so that both the end users and the researchers themselves can influence one another’s ideas. They believe that it is only by approaching information sharing in this way that there will be true uptake of new ideas, technologies, innovations and inventions.
Knowledge mobilisation has been a major thread weaved into the work of the UQAM since its inception. And, in recent years, mobilisation has become more central to the University’s activities, especially in terms of developing ways to support knowledge mobilisation with professors, and since the University joined ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) – a pan-Canadian network committed to knowledge mobilisation – in 2010.
The idea to join RIR and the desire to develop new ways of supporting researchers in their knowledge mobilisation activities initially came from Dominique Robitaille, who was at the time Director of Research and Creation Services (SRC), and Dr Caroline Roger, Director of Partnerships and Innovation Support Services (SePSI). “Our two services developed the knowledge mobilisation unit, which includes two knowledge brokers with the mandate of realising our annual knowledge mobilisation plan,” Rogers shares.
In addition to SRC and SePSI, there is a third unit deeply involved in knowledge mobilisation activities. Community Services (SAC) focuses on engaging with community groups and end users of products. This work allows the Director of SAC, Marcel Simoneau, and his team to understand the needs of the communities relevant to various branches of the University. “SAC exists at the intersection between community and the University,” Simoneau explains. “Its mandates are to act as an interface agent and to promote and coordinate training and research activities to be carried out by faculty members in collaboration with community partners.”
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