The art of going beyond peer review / L’art de dépasser la revue par les pairs

By David Phipps (ResearchImpact York)
In a world of theatre, poetry, story telling, dance and art, peer review is necessary but not sufficient to disseminate research to diverse audiences.
Dans un monde de théâtre, de poésie, de récits, de danse et d’art, la revue par les pairs est une nécessité mais n’est pas suffisante pour disséminer la recherche à des publics très divers.
I recently read a paper from the Research Unit for Research Utilization titled, « Helping social research make a difference« . The authors presented different methods of communicating research results to different audiences. Refreshingly it did not discuss the usual KMb tools we use to complement peer reviewed dissemination such as social media, research summaries and town halls.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all important and ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RI-RIR) uses all of these in our KMb practice. What Huw and Alison did is present some dissemination formats that we don’t see every day. The paper gets us thinking about:

  1. Narratives and stories: fiction, faction and persuasion
  2. Language shifts and metaphor diversity
  3. Advertising, marketing and social marketing
  4. Journeying together: co-producing knowledge; co-producing design
  5. Immersion and experiential learning
  6. Creativity and the arts

RI-RIR bases its KMb practice on co-production but the others listed above are all very cool and are rarely utilized. Once exception I have seen is the play « Seeing the Forest » written by Julia Gray and Gail Mitchell. The play is based on the research of Gail Mitchell and Deborah Tregunno of York U’s School of Nursing and Liane Ginsburg from the School of Health Policy and Management. The researchers were funded by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute to explore medial errors and patient safety throughout the process of providing health care. The play looks through the lens of the patient, the health care provider and the health care institution and illustrates those places and those practices that put patients’ safety at risk.
Their work was written up by Hospital News and was recently presented to over 300 staff of Ontario Community Care Access Centres that connects patients and families with the care they need, at home and in their community. In addition the researchers are writing up their findings for publication in a peer reviewed journal, again illustrating that alternative forms of research dissemination complement traditional academic peer review.
While the play itself was instructive what cemented its ability to convey key research messages was what happened after the four actors took their bow. The four picked up a sign each containing the following words:

  1. Blinding familiarity
  2. Dismissive urgency
  3. Unyielding determination
  4. Illusion of control

The researchers found that these are the four primary determinants of medical errors. The researchers then engaged the audience in a dialogue about these four issues turning the event from one of knowledge transfer (=dissemination) to one of knowledge exchange (=engagement). It was this exchange that allowed the researchers to summarize their research in key messages.
Peter Levesque recently mused about the power of poetry to be a medium for KMb – check out the KMb Rap. Linda Hawkins of ResearchImpact-Guelph will be presenting on storytelling at CUExpo 2011 in May 2011. York U’s Deborah Barndt is the Coordinator of the Community Arts Practice Certificate Program. The KTE Community of Practice presented a seminar on Research-Based Dance as Knowledge Translation. PREVNet, which has an explicit KMb mandate, consulted on the libretto of an opera about bullying, called Elijah’s Kite.
Theatre. Poetry. Dance. Art. Storytelling. Opera. There’s a huge array of research dissemination that complements traditional academic peer reviewed publishing. Tell us your stories. Paint us a picture or write us a poem about some non-traditional forms of research dissemination you have seen or used in your KMb practice.