Dancause, Luc. “ Diagnostic de l’expertise québécoise dans le domaine de la mobilisation des connaissances [Assessment of expertise in Quebec in the field of knowledge mobilization]. ” (October 2020). https://oraprdnt.uqtr.uquebec.ca/pls/public/gscw031?owa_no_site=2100
In the wake of the publication of its Cadre sur le bilinguisme [Bilingualism Framework] where it commits to make more room for French content, the RIC is undertaking, beginning with this text, a series of publications in French on the most recent developments in knowledge mobilization within Canadian Francophonie. What better way to start this exploration than with the report Diagnostic de l’expertise québécoise dans le domaine de la mobilisation des connaissances [Assessment of expertise in Quebec in the field of knowledge mobilization] written by researcher Luc Dancause, that paints the portrait of the sector’s evolution over the last ten years in Quebec?
Knowledge mobilization (KMb) is a practice that emerged at the turn of the 90’s, while some stakeholders in the sector of partner-oriented research started to re-evaluate the hierarchization of knowledge and the position of superiority of University researchers. Adopted by funding bodies such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) as well as the field of higher education, KMb is quickly becoming a key facet of partner-oriented research in the country. While an increasing number of organizations agree with KMb in one form or another, its application has changed according to the times, with each organization adopting and adapting it according to its own needs. How did the practice of KMb evolve during the last decade in Quebec? Who are the main stakeholders currently and what are the most recent driving trends in la belle province?
Luc Dancause gives a summary in Diagnostic de l’expertise québécoisedans le domaine de la mobilisation des connaissances [Assessment of expertise in Quebec in the field of knowledge mobilization] of what has been achieved in terms of knowledge mobilization in Quebec between 2010 and 2020. This detailed, nearly 100-page report, written in collaboration with Université de l’Ontario français (UOF), Humanov·is, and TIESS (Territoires innovants en économie sociale et solidaire) [Innovative territories in social and solidarity economy] and funded by the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations canadiennes (SQRC) [Quebec Secretariat to Canadian Relations] presents the current state of this field of knowledge in Quebec through detailed comparative analysis work. Dancause bases his analysis on the examination of a body of 38 articles concerning KMb from both gray and scientific literature, published between 2014 and 2020 by researchers from Quebec. The author adopts two key elements as a cornerstone: on the one hand, a selection of three definitions of Kmb among the most representative from Quebec practices (those of ComSanté [Communication and Health Research Center], Fonds de recherche du Québec [Quebec Research Funding] et de l’Institut national de la santé publique [National Institute of Public Health]), on the other hand, the comparative analysis project on KMb practices in Quebec published in 2009 by RQIS [Quebec’s Social Innovation network]. The author established his point of comparison based on this study published eleven years prior before assessing KMb’s progress in Quebec in 2020.
A field in consolidation
The first trend that emerges from this analysis is that the field of KMb is “in consolidation mode rather than revolution mode” (p.21). If we note the increased number of stakeholders and KMb-related activities in KMb in 2020 compared to 2009, we notice that the founding principles have remained unchanged. The “10 commandments of KMb” identified in the RQIS report “have not aged at all”, notes the author. The key importance of the human factor in partnership relations, the critical presence of “hybrid” or intermediary individuals and the development of a multidisciplinary approach, for example, are all facets of Kmb that proved to be just as true in 2020 as they were eleven years prior. That said, we have seen in the last few years a certain refinement in the approach to projects, as well as greater openness to experimentation in methodology. The area of assessment is increasingly important, as is evidence-based practice in general. Unsurprisingly, it is in the fields of health (44 out of 138 articles), education (15), research (14), and technology (11) that elicit the most interest in KMb. Nevertheless, we note a growing interest in KMb in a wide variety of knowledge sectors other than the four traditional fields— psychosocial intervention (7), culture (6), and employment (5), for example. Four contemporary issues stand out in these writings: the importance of a better understanding of the determining factors of KMb (Marion and Houlfort 2015), the question of the social role of the researcher (Carrier and Contandriopoulos 2016), the transferability potential of the research results (Dagenais et al. 2017) and the measure of the potential impact of KMb (Bédard 2015).
KMb organizations and training in Quebec
In addition to this analysis, the report Diagnostic de l’expertise québécoise summarized all the organization and university infrastructures in Quebec that make KMb their primary area of expertise in 2020, as well as a generous list of specialized training programs and resources available in the province. The list of organizations includes members of the university excellence center network such as the Smart Cybersecurity Network (SERENE-RISC); research centers and chairs such as the Research chair on homophobia at UQAM [University of Quebec at Montréal] ; strategic groups such as the Réseau BRILLEnfant [Network for children with brain disorders] at McGill’s academic health sciences center; college transfer centers such as the Centre d’initiation à la recherche et d’aide au développement durable (CIRADD) [Research Center for sustainable development] at the Cégep de la Gaspésie les-îles; liaison groups such as Computer Research Institute of Montreal (CRIM); practical settings such as the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) [Quebec’s National Institute of Public Health]. The report notes the presence in Quebec of both long schooling programs (graduate studies) and short week- or day-long training sessions specialized in KMb. A student in Quebec can, for example, enroll in a Master’s program in KMb at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) [National Institute of Scientific Research] or a graduate certificate in KMb at Bishop’s University. The RENARD team at the Université de Montréal [University of Montréal] and the Institut du Savoir Monfort [Monfort Knowledge Institute] offer online courses to train on and raise awareness of KMb, while the DIALOG network offers a 45-hour program that showcases knowledge sharing between universities and Indigenous settings. The list of tools and resources that are useful for KMb include toolkits to support organization in implementing KMb strategies, several custom-designed guides to help with KMb in various research fields, as well as reference tools such as a glossary of terms commonly used in education KMb. The report closes with three case studies, an exploration of three “inspiring projects” in Quebec, whose objective is to show the various dimensions of KMb as observed on the ground in 2020.
Challenges that still need to be addressed
Diagnostic de l’expertise québécoise concludes with some observations related to the evolution of KMb practices in Quebec in the last decade. Despite that growing popularity and diversity that characterize KMb, many challenges remain. The formalization of practices “is still all in all limited” and the tools developed “remain more or less precise” (p. 94). We are still struggling to define a common language between partners and to overcome cultural barriers that exist among the different settings. The status granted to KMb in universities is unfortunately not always clear, and their researchers still rarely see their involvement in KMb activities recognized at fair value. The training opportunities in KMb, although increasing in number, are still not sufficient to meet the various needs of students, researchers, and practitioners. Beyond the mere accumulation of KMb-related projects and training programs, the report advocates for a deeper look into the dialog between practice and research already underway, such that the various partners of KMb can learn lessons and improve their practices.
The report Diagnostic de l’expertise québécoise dans le domaine de la mobilisation des connaissances is available at https://oraprdnt.uqtr.uquebec.ca/pls/public/gscw031?owa_no_site=2100, where a decent number of explanatory documents can be found that highlight the most important aspects in a shortened format.