KT Post Cards from #BRAIN2013 – Day 2 – KT Services and Training

David Phipps (writing as KT Lead for NeuroDevNet)

The Knowledge Translation (KT Core) for NeuroDevNet is led by York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. David Phipps (KT Lead) and Anneliese Poetz (KT Manager) were shooting videos, tweeting and building capacity to embed KT in the research and training programs for Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  The services offered to researchers, trainees and partners are based largely on the knowledge mobilization services offered by York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit.

NeuroDevNet KT Core Services:

Support for Networks and Collaborations through knowledge brokering support collaborations between NDN researchers and partners from the public, private, non-profit and practitioner sectors
support development of NDN corporate networks such as the Community for Brain Development
support KT planning: i) advise NDN researchers and their partner organizations on plans for integrated and end of grant KT; ii) support KT components of NDN funding applications
Support for KT Events identify and adapt event planning tools and makes them available along with support to NDN researchers, trainees and partners: ensuring decision maker partners involved; identifying venues; negotiating contracts; logistical support for catering, A/V, printing etc.
provide input and support to NDN events including the annual Brain Conference
staffing exhibit booths at NDN events
Support for KT Products draft clear language research summaries
support social media strategies
assists NDN researchers, students and partner organizations making videos and other forms of KT dissemination including arts based content
KT Capacity Building KT training in person and on line
identify, assess and adapt KT tools to NDN needs
KT Evaluation Framework develop evaluation framework for KT; develop KT success stories

NeuroDevNet researchers, trainees and partners can obtain any of these services by contacting Anneliese Poetz (apoetz@yorku.ca).

KT Capacity Building is one of these services. At #Brain2013 Anneliese Poetz and York’s KMb Officer Krista Jensen ran a trainee workshop on KT methods and social media. Evaluations from the workshop showed the attendees were very satisfied with the workshop. The impact of the workshop on trainees is best illustrated by a video of NeuroDevNet trainees Lori Sacrey and Tamara Germani. The KT Core is delighted at this trainees produced video – thanks for the shout out!

KT Post Cards from #BRAIN2013 – Day 0 (by the numbers)

NDN logoBy David Phipps (RIR-York, writing as NeuroDevNet KT Core Lead)

On August 19,2013 York University announced that York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit was hosting the Knowledge Translation Core of NeuroDevNet, a Network of Centres of Excellence supporting research, training and KT for childhood neurodevelopmental disorders (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy). The KT Core (David Phipps, KT Core Lead and Anneliese Poetz, KT Core Manager) is in Vancouver for three days at the 2013 Brain Development Conference.

Day 1: meeting of research projects and core facilities: neuroethics, neuroimaging and KT

By the numbers:

53 trainees, 3 hours and 2 facilitators running a workshop on KT and social media. Anneliese Poetz (Manager, NeuroDevNet KT Core) and Krista Jensen (KMb Officer, York University) ran a workshop for trainees (graduate students and post docs). Anneliese presented how to plan integrated and end of grant KT. Krista gave an overview of the use of social media as a KT tool.

It was pouring with rain and 12 degrees: welcome to Vancouver!

24 research, training and KT projects. 2 people per project. 1 room. 45 minutes of speed dating. Every project talked to every other project for 2 minutes. Chaos. Cacophony. But as described by the Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors, “if the people in the room keep working together they have the power to change the world”.

3 demonstration projects (ASD, FASD, CP), 2 brokers, 1 KT Core, 120 minutes. We never want to do KT on the run but we don’t mind running to advise on KT.

#BRAIN13 actually starts tomorrow so this wasn’t even day 1! Tomorrow will have more research, more stakeholders, more trainees and more KT including speakers corner and live tweeting throughout.

You can read more about the KT Core services here: NDN KT Core Services description_Sept23 2013_FINAL_sm.
Anneliese Poetz and David Phipps

Anneliese Poetz and David Phipps

Work Harder to be More Effective / Travailler plus fort pour être plus efficace

David Phipps, RIR-York

Knowledge mobilization is harder than translation or transfer or even exchange. But it is more effective. Yet we continue to invest so much effort in less effective strategies to promote research utilization.

La mobilisation des connaissances est plus difficile que l’adaptation ou même l’échange de connaissances. Mais elle est plus efficace. Pourtant, nous continuons à investir d’important efforts dans des stratégies moins efficaces visant à promouvoir l’utilisation des connaissances.

I continue to read about researchers who lament how difficult it is to get their research implemented by decision makers. For example, one post and another post on GDNet. But these are just two of many examples of knowledge translation where researchers try to package their research in new forms. A leading university recently lamented to me that they need to find a way to get their research papers more widely disseminated in a form that policy makers will use – see our ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries as one solution, but one that we use to help support collaboration, not knowledge translation. Knowledge mobilization is frequently misunderstood as dissemination or research communications on steroids. But it’s more than that.

ResearchSnapshot logo

The problem isn’t that decision makers aren’t receiving the information. They receive too much information. Perhaps all we need to do is present it in context and then they will understand the importance of the research. So we construct knowledge exchange events where research is provided to decision makers in a forum where they can engage more actively with the researchers. But you can’t change people in one event. Knowledge mobilization is frequently misunderstood as knowledge transfer and exchange where knowledge moves between the research producers to the research uses. But it’s more than that.

More than translation, transfer or exchange, knowledge mobilization helps support research collaborations and co-production of knowledge where researchers and decision maker partners jointly produce knowledge that is relevant to the academy as well as to real world problems. There is lots of literature on co-production being the most robust form of knowledge mobilization. See a knowledge mobilization journal club post on this topic.  Furthermore, knowledge mobilization is not challenged by attribution which is an issue in knowledge translation, translation and exchange.

So if the evidence shows that co-production is the most effective way of using research to inform decision making why do researchers who advocate for evidence based decision making fail to base their own decisions on the evidence? A few reasons:

  1. We are knowledge hypocrites. It’s time to practice what we preach.
  2. Funders reinforce the power structure between the campus and the community by providing funding to academic researchers and not community partners. Recent efforts by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada through their Connections program are starting to address this.
  3. It’s the easy thing to do. It operates within existing academic paradigms. It reinforces the artificial dichotomy of “researcher” and “decision maker” and it doesn’t make them work any differently.
  4. It is also easy because it propagates traditional notions of scholarship and what counts as knowledge. Our institutions don’t help by continuing with centuries old notions of tenure that are only now being challenged by groups such as the consortium on Engaged Scholarship, of which many ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities are members.

Bottom line: transfer, translation and exchange are easy compared to mobilization. Telling someone what they need to know is easier than working with them to help co-discover what you both need to know.

Knowledge mobilization is harder but more effective. It is also way more fun.

Hard Work Sign

Public Benefits from Public Research

David Phipps (RIR – York) wrote this guest post for KTExchange.org.  It was originally published on August 3, 2011 and is cross posted here with permission.

I have been invited by the University of Texas School of Public Health, Research Into Action project, to the Centers for Disease Control National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media to debate the position that Canada has a knowledge translation secret. I look forward to this discussion with Stephen Linder (The University of Texas School of Public Health), Pimjai Sudsawad (Knowledge Translation Program Coordinator, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research), and Rick Austin (Research Into Action project), because I get to brag about Canada and our KT successes.

We’ll start from the (debatable) position that Canada has a KT secret. There is an evidence gap here. There are also excellent examples of KT from around the world. Nonetheless, there is a widely held perception that our KT secret has resulted from (or resulted in) public investments in national KT institutions like the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Canadian Partnerships Against Cancer, Mental Health Commission of Canada, and Canadian Council on Learning, all with a KT mandate. Canada also has ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR), the only national network of university knowledge mobilization units in the world (to our knowledge).

For argument’s sake, let’s accept that Canada has a KT secret – the question becomes why? Canada has a strong history of public institutions. Compared to the US, Canada has less private health care and fewer private options for education from K-12 to higher education. Using General Expenditures in R&D (GERD) as a metric, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has shown that Canada’s public sector invests relatively more in R&D than does Canada’s private sector. On June 28, 2011 Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council released its report on Canada’s innovation performance in 2010.  The report recognizes that “Canada’s overall business expenditures on R&D lag behind international innovation leaders. These numbers are trending down when they should be trending up.”

Since Canadians invest proportionally more public funding in R&D and likewise have fewer private options in health care and education, I propose that Canadians expect a return on their investments in public research so that research benefits policy and practice in health and education as well as in other sectors. That’s the Canadian socially democratic model.

If this is true, so what? How can we translate this to other jurisdictions? How can other countries create an expectation of public return for public investments in research? Continue reading

GURU = Great University-Based Research Utilization

Guru. That’s what we think of when we think of Carole Estabrooks and her more than two decades of research and teaching in KT, and we weren’t disappointed when she was the inaugural speaker for the Ontario KTE Community of Practice (CoP) 2010 season (see the presentation slides here). The event attracted 28 knowledge brokers, researchers and practitioners who braved a blizzard to enjoy 2 hours of presentation (“Exploring the Applicability of Research Through the Practice of KT”) and dialogue with one of Canada’s leading KT researchers.

Carole holds a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in KT at the University of Alberta and runs the Knowledge Utilization Studies Program (KUSP). She walked us thorough her experience working under different theoretical frameworks of knowledge utilization from diffusion of innovation to evidence based medicine to implementation science [see Madon et al (2007) Science 318: 1728]. Look for her presentation soon on the KTE CoP web site but I wish to focus on two areas that are of particular interest to KM practitioners at ResearchImpact.

[OK, as an aside, because it’s not really something I want to focus on, she did say she is coming round to recognizing the potential for knowledge brokers in a knowledge utilization framework… Carole, call me, we’ll talk… now, back to the blog]

1. Practice what you preach:

Carole indicated nurses don’t routinely read nursing or medical literature to inform their practice. I propose that neither do knowledge brokers. We are so busy doing what it is we do that we don’t create the time to sit back, read, reflect and most importantly, write about our practice. We preach evidence informed practice but upon what evidence are we basing our practice? As KM staff we’re measured on how many interns we placed, collaborations we supported, research summaries we wrote and who used all of this activity to do what with it. Read Carole’s paper about busyness as a barrier to effective research utilization [Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17(4), 539-548. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2007.01981.x] and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. But we’re changing this at ResearchImpact. We have already published a couple of papers on our work (see blog posts here and here) and have one more submitted to the journal Education & Training. After my earlier blog post and this one, I am going to ask the ResearchImpact-York knowledge brokers to take one day each month to spend catching up on reading and perhaps we can move towards an annotated broker bibliography which we can post on the ResearchImpact web site.

2. Attention

Carole made a remark while she was talking about busyness as a barrier to research utilization. She said, “effective KT requires attention”. That got me thinking of an article I recently read on twitter thanks to York’s KM Unit volunteer, Gary Myers. Huberman, Romero and Wu said in their online paper Social Networks that Matter: Twitter under the microscope,  “attention is the scare resource in the age of the web”.

Here’s my issue:

In a world of twitter induced attention deficit, I remain convinced that there is a role for social media to mediate KM which is based on networks that are enabled by transparency, trust and relationship closeness – all of which are facilitated by social media. At least in theory (the academic literature on social media is only starting to emerge, but the blog literature is convincing on this point – however, don’t forget your source criticism… would a blogger really be a good critic of social media?). Absent any evidence we’ll put it to a vote:

Is social media an effective tool for KM? Say yes or no and tell us why using the comment feature above.

So Carole, thank you. You engaged us and made us laugh and made us think. Thanks also to the Ontario KTE CoP for kicking off a great year with a great speaker. And for the rest of us remember to create the time in your schedule to give the KM evidence your attention so that you can practice what you preach. At least on my train trip I took the time to reflect on Carole’s talk and write this blog while enjoying the scenery around Trenton.

Michael’s ‘Aha Moment’!

I am flattered to know someone asked for a blog based on a Tweet I contributed on the ResearchImpact Twitter feed.  First, a few observations and disclaimers.  I am glad blog posts do not mirror dissertations in rigour or length.  Next, I do not claim to be an authority on ‘outcomes’ or ‘impacts’ although my work is heavily invested in both terms/processes.  Lastly, I admit I carried around strong assumptions that the logic model for impact followed a sequential (and not very quick moving) flow from activity to outcome to impact. 

January 11 and 12, I had the pleasure of attending a Scientist Knowledge Translation Training event which was hosted by The Hospital for Sick Children and was led by Drs. Melanie Barwick and Donna Lockett .  Over two days, Melanie and Donna shared practical tools for developing Knowledge Translation (KT) plans, led discussions toward a more clear understanding of KT and provided valuable exercises to improve attendees capacity to understand the ‘user context’ for successful linkage and exchange, which is a foundation for successful KT.  The 25 attendees present were predominantly health practitioners who had KT responsibilities embedded into their job descriptions although there were some health researchers and policy professionals in attendance as well.

However, back to the notion of impact.  Never one to be terribly shy, I asked about the relationship between outcomes and impact, stating my feeling it was not possible to measure impact so closely to any KT transaction because impact was a by-product of outcomes.  What triggered this question was a slide that identified short-term, intermediate and long-term outcomes.  Moreover, while this makes sense, some confusion arose for me with regard to ‘measuring impact’, which in my experience is a challenge in policy and practice-relevant research.  So when one of the facilitators commented that she would be seeking impact measures based on short-term behavioural or practice changes amongst the participants of the session, I was skeptical.  What followed was a brief discussion between us two about the relationship of outcome and impact and that it is possible to identify impact measure very closely after a KT transaction.

The ensuing discussion did not necessarily change my beliefs around impact in relation to outcomes.  Reflecting back, I would say they have expanded my beliefs.  Impact is no longer solely a longitudinal process which one must wait (pick your timeframe – 6 months, one year, five years, and so on) to identify behaviour or practice changes.

I look forward to further discussion on this topic, and the inevitable reading that I will embark upon to challenge and reinforce my expanded belief system on impact.  Given the significance of this topic for publicly funded researchers and practitioners, it is a conversation which we should all be engaged with, and a topic we should give voice to.  Hey, that could be a second ‘aha moment’!