Research Summaries From Local to Global

Writing a peer reviewed article is nice but it doesn’t mobilize knowledge to anyone except other scholars. Making research evidence accessible is a necessary first step to enable use of that evidence. A clear language research summary is one way to make evidence accessible.  


Picture this: 2008. David Phipps at York University receives a small SSHRC grant to develop a standard format of clear language research summary and hired Jason Guriel (then a York PhD student in poetry) as the first writer for what we named Research Snapshots and they became a standard knowledge mobilization tool for KMb York for many years. At York they have been used by the Homeless HubCanadian Business Ethics Research NetworkRe-imagining Long Term Care, the Boredom Lab and Faculty of Education. In KMb York we developed hundreds of these and they remain accessible in the York Libraries repository. Including ours and others at York we have helped to write over 500 Research Snapshot clear language summaries.  


A key element of KMb York’s Research Snapshot program was that we would engage with our knowledge mobilization stakeholders (Regional Municipality of York, York Region District School Board, United Way of York Region) to identify their research priorities and we would write research summaries to meet their needs. 


And then other Research Impact Canada members started using them. University of Guelph was among the first. McMaster based their Research Snaps on the model and ended up winning an award for science communications. For a 2018 clear language writing RIC webinar Jen Kyffin hosted a room full of knowledge mobilization stakeholders at UVic. She then invited Michael Johnny to visit and provide clear language writing workshops to +120 people. 


But beyond RIC the Research Snapshot template has been used by significant knowledge mobilization organizations including the Evidence Exchange Network (CAMH), the Knowledge Network for Applied Education Research (KNAER), Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN) and Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO).  


And then this, from Jen at UVic who has been collaborating with Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA) who describes themselves as a global charity that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation. As communicated to Jen, “We’ve managed to get a few Snapshots done and more in progress. They are proving popular with our Comms team and we’ve had a few people from universities we fund ask for us to support their universities to work with them directly to produce similar.” 


So from modest beginnings in Toronto to global humanitarian efforts and the international universities that collaborate with ELRHA, the mighty Research Snapshot clear language research summary is helping to mobilize research around the world. 


Read more about Research Snapshot in our article in Scholarly and Research Communications (2012). 


Read the Research Snapshot on the paper about Research Snapshot. 


Watch Research Impact Canada’s clear language writing webinar.