Exploring the frontiers of research co-production: the Integrated Knowledge Translation Research Network concept papers

Graham, I.D., McCutcheon, C. & Kothari, A. Exploring the frontiers of research co-production: the Integrated Knowledge Translation Research Network concept papers. Health Res Policy Sys 17, 88 (2019) https://health-policy-systems.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12961-019-0501-7



Research co-production is about doing research with those who use it. This approach to research has been receiving increasing attention from research funders, academic institutions, researchers and even the public as a means of optimising the relevance, usefulness, usability and use of research findings, which together, the argument goes, produces greater and more timely impact. The papers in this cross BMC journal collection raise issues about research co-production that, to date, have not been fully considered and suggest areas for future research for advancing the science and practice of research co-production. These papers address some gaps in the literature, make connections between subfields and provide varied perspectives from researchers and knowledge users.


The collection of 15 articles in BMC journals can be found here.

This is an odd one for the KMb Journal Club. This is not a review of a single article. I am bringing this collection of articles about co-production and integrated KT (iKT) to your attention. Ian Graham and colleagues have collected 15 papers on iKT and related concepts from 7 journals published between 2017-2019.


This collection of 15 articles illustrates how co-production relates to many different concepts relevant to knowledge mobilization and research impact:

Some papers consider how a research co-production approach relates to:

  • Research methods (e.g. ethnography, community-based participatory research, evaluation of IKT)
  • Indigenous health research
  • Global health governance
  • Patient engagement in research
  • Creating impact


Other papers include:

  • A protocol for five scoping and systematic reviews on areas of research co-production
  • A review of what research funders around the world do to support knowledge translation and research co-production
  • A multiple case study of knowledge user participation in cancer health services research


I have two critiques of this collection:

  1. Of the 15 articles in the collection, Ian Graham and/or his co-authors are authors on 11 of them. On the one hand this is testament to the authors’ leadership in the field of iKT. On the other had there is a lot of literature – especially dealing with community-based research – out of the social sciences and other disciplines that deals with co-production. The authors are missing a chance to draw connections about iKT across disciplines as well as across methodologies in health research.


  1. And here’s my soap box about researchers of co-production…they don’t often co-produce! Of the 15 articles in this collection only 5 have non-academic co-authors and only 3 of those are co-authored by organizations that are likely in a position to use the research evidence. These three articles include authors from Hearth Life Foundation, Alberta Health Services and one article with two authors from indigenous organizations: Minwaashin Lodge – Aboriginal Women’s Support Centre and the Innu Round Table.


See an old post about knowledge hypocrites that is clearly still relevant almost 8 years later.


Questions for brokers:

  1. These are, by design, all about health research. Will the concepts of co-production in health research map over to co-production in social sciences, STEM disciplines, humanities, environmental sciences and/or creative arts?
  2. We are all knowledge hypocrites: discuss.
  3. With such an evidence base for the value of co-production why are many impact strategies in grant applications based on knowledge transfer/translation?


Research Impact Canada is producing this journal club series as a way to make evidence on KMb more accessible to knowledge brokers and to create on line discussion about research on knowledge mobilization. It is designed for knowledge brokers and other knowledge mobilization stakeholders. Read this open access article. Then come back to this post and join the journal club by posting your comments