Social Media for Knowledge Mobilization / Les médias sociaux au service de la mobilisation des connaissances

David Phipps, RIR – York

Blogs, presentations on Slide Share, videos on you tube, twitter, Delicious bookmarks, Linked In but not facebook. These are our social media tools and now we have published a book chapter reflecting on these tools and their application to knowledge mobilization.

Blogues, présentations sur SlideShare, vidéos sur YouTube, signets Delicious, LinkedIn (mais pas Facebook), voici les outils que nous utilisons sur les médias sociaux. Nous avons publié un chapitre de livre qui présente ces outils ainsi que leurs applications pour la mobilisation des connaissances.

A few weeks ago Krista Jensen, David Phipps (both from RIR-York) and Gary Myers (www.kmbeing.com) published a book chapter titled “Applying Social Sciences Research for Public Benefit Using Knowledge Mobilization and Social Media”. This was published by the open access publisher, In Tech, in a book titled “Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Social Sciences and Knowledge Management” that was edited by Asunción López-Varela.

The chapter didn’t attempt to review the literature since this is a large body of work and has been done elsewhere. The chapter started out with these elsewheres by presenting three perspectives on knowledge mobilization: 1) Knowledge To Action cycle (Ian Graham and colleagues in Ottawa); 2) Collaborative Entanglement (Bennet & Bennet) and 3) Research Use by Sandra Nutley and colleague from the Research Unit for Research Utilization, University of Edinburgh. We challenged each of these three perspectives but chose them because they each built on the other conceptually drawing the reader into deeper and more contextualized understandings of the subject but concluded that there were three take away messages from these literature reviews:

  • KMb is a social process
  • Efforts to enhance KMb need to be interactive and focus on the relationships between researchers and decision makers
  • KMb happens at the level of the individual and is only beginning to emerge at the organization and the system/sectoral level

Word cloud of key words in profiles: Followers of RIR

These three messages were then illustrated by citing the practices of Institute for Work and Health and PREVNet, both of whom promote the use and uptake of research into policy and practice. In addition to these two Canadian networks these principles were illustrated by three international examples of university based knowledge mobilization activities: Community University Partnership Program of the University of Brighton, Research in Action Project of the Institute for Health Policy at the University of Texas and the Centre for Families and Relationships at the University of Brighton.

The chapter then presents in detail the knowledge mobilization services of York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. Drawing on our “recipe book” published in Scholarly & Research Communications in December 2011 we go further to present some success stories arising from our work: United Way York Region Strength Investments, Parkdale Activity & Recreation Centre Heat Registry, Green Economy Centre of South Simcoe and Evaluation of the Inclusivity Action Plan of the Regional Municipality of York.

Word cloud of key words in profiles: Who RIR Follows

The novel contribution of this chapter is in its presentation of the theory and practice of social media as it relates to knowledge mobilization. While we have been active promoters, users and instructors on social media  this is the first time we tried to think more deeply about our use, primarily of twitter. Gary Myers did some analysis of the key words used in the profile of our twitter followers, those we follow on twitter and a control group. He found that the average key word score of those we follow to be significantly higher than those who follow us and both were higher than a control group.

It’s not rocket science but it is a start at thinking critically about our use of twitter as a tool for knowledge mobilization. We recognize that:  more research is needed to understand how social media can be used to mobilize social science research; social media can be used to disseminate and exchange research and knowledge; and that social media, especially Twitter, can help to connect individuals sharing a common interest and thus support a community of practice.

Word cloud of key words in profiles: Control Group

Reflecting on the future we conclude that knowledge mobilization will continue to evolve as an institutional capacity, that knowledge brokering will evolve as a profession and social media will evolve as tools for knowledge brokers working in institutional knowledge mobilization units.

This chapter can be found in York’s institutional repository. Thanks also to Gary Myers who blogged about this chapter as soon as it was released. You can read his perspectives on our book chapter here.

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