I’m a researcher, why do I blog? / Je suis un chercheur, qu’est-ce que je fais ici à bloguer?

Will Gage, Associate Dean, Research & Innovation, Faculty of Health, York University

This week’s blog post is a guest post from Dr. Will Gage. Dr. Gage is the Associate Dean, Research & Innovation in the Faculty of Health at York University the owner of the blog Don’t Fall, which shares on falls prevention research and expertise.

Le billet de cette semaine est signé par un blogueur invité, le docteur Will Gage. M. Gage est vice-doyen à la recherche et à l’innovation à la Faculté des soins de santé de l’Université York. Son cybercarnet intitulé Don’t Fall aborde des questions de recherche et d’expertise dans le domaine de la prévention des chutes.

Dr. Will Gage

Dr. Will Gage

Six months ago I really didn’t even know what “blogging” was. I’d never read a blog. I knew only one person who blogged – my friend Matt, a photographer who was taking pictures of and writing about the Grand River in Kitchener-Waterloo. I recall from last summer a conversation with Matt about social media. What is this? Why do you “tweet”? Isn’t this a waste of time? He looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t understand, I didn’t get social media, and from my perspective he was the crazy one. How things for me have changed.

Almost two years ago, I took up my current academic appointment as Associate Dean Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Health at York University. At that time I set about trying to have conversations with people across campus, about innovation. I’m a researcher myself, so the “research” part of the title was self-evident. But innovation, this was going to be a challenge. In my conversations, and in my reading on the topic (as any academic would, I attempted to gain a theoretical mastery of the topic while garnering no actual practical ability), I quickly realized that no two people had the same definition of “innovation”. Then I realized that no two industries seem to have the same definition of innovation. But this is a topic of conversation for another day. In these conversations and readings I kept coming across “social media” as an opportunity for academics to share the gospel of their research. Is that how researchers see their work? As gospel? So it was time for me to learn more. Maybe I was the crazy one, not Matt.

David and Michael really introduced me to the idea of academics blogging about their work for the sake of knowledge mobilization. They opened my eyes to the possibilities afforded by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. I realized that this is innovation, at least by one definition of innovation. Academics can tell the story of their research and share their knowledge with everyone. Okay, it can be done. But why would anyone do this? People are more often than we’d like to believe guided by WIIFM – what’s in it for me? I don’t believe that the answer is self-evident to most researchers. But having said that, the research funding agencies want to know that we can, and do, translate our knowledge and disseminate it for public consumption, so maybe at the very least writing a blog helps a researcher to hone those lesser used skills around lay writing. But in my opinion this is not a compelling reason to write a blog.

I believe that a more compelling reason to write a blog is money. The Benjamins. (Do we Canadians say “The Bordens”? I’ve never heard that phrase used in bank heist movie). Not personal wealth, though that’s not off the table. No, I’m talking about research funding. I’m talking a little bit about peer-reviewed research funding – the Tri-councils and so on – but I’m mostly talking about donor funding. This is a conversation that I’m having with the Advancement Officer in Faculty of Health – can the stories that I’m writing on my blog be useful for informing potential donors about the value of my work, and the work of my colleagues in the field, such that it might make it easier to separate the donor from their dollars?

Dontfall.caWhat I’m writing on my blog are indeed stories. If I’m writing about knee replacement surgery and how the patient demographics are shifting and patients are getting younger and younger around the world (this is actually the topic of the blog post that I’m writing currently), well this can be intensely personal for the reader with severe knee arthritis who thinks she’ll have to live for the next 15 years with excruciating pain because she’s only 50 years right now. Who doesn’t know an older person who has fallen in the past year? If you have anyone over 65 years of age in your life, you probably do, even if you don’t realize it and they haven’t told you. Can this be an effective means to tell the public about our work? Can the material we write for our blogs prove valuable in the constant campaign to raise funding to support research? I think it can. I’m building a library of accessible material that can be repurposed for any number of reasons, one of which may be fundraising efforts.

I’ve come to learn that there are many reasons to adopt a social media strategy for disseminating your research. Thought-leaders like David and Michael have known this for years, I know. And one at a time, they’re converting people like me. I hope that you can take away from this article some ideas and rationale for dedicating some of your time to, perhaps, blogging about your work.

One last thought … as researchers we’re often confronted with collegial (and sometimes not so collegial) criticism pertaining to our work. My blog audience is grateful for the time I take and effort I devote. Their feedback is amazing. Invigorating. And when it follows on the heels of excoriating reviewer responses to my latest journal submission, it’s reinvigorating.


Social Good and Business Hooked up and I Saw it Happen

Christian Quaresma,York University

This is a guest post reposted with permission from York University student and poet, Christian Quaresma. Christian attending the Collaboration for Social Good event held on April 18, 2013, in Markham (read more about it here) and composed a poem “Untitled” during the event, along with fellow student and poet Sara-Jane Gloutnez. 

Yesterday, April 18th, was a strange day in my poetic career, and a challenging day as a human being. I attended a conference on Collaboration for Social Good in Markham Ontario in order to view the gathering of NGO’s, businesses, and government, through the lens of a poet. At some point I was to give a short performance of a piece I composed on the spot. The organizers sat me at a table with CEO’s, social workers, a professor from Schulich  School of Business, and entrepreneurs, where my identity remained incognito until I took the stage toward the end of the day.

I realized pretty quickly that this event, put together by the York Region Women’s Centre, York U, and other social enterprises, was going to be focused on business strategy. I hadn’t hoped for much more; this romantic poet has a pragmatic streak. Throughout the event there was a lot of jargon tossed around, words like crowdfunding and collaborative consumption (a good idea with a terrible name).

But among the shop talk and the Tony Robbins-like crowd peppering, there were two things that astounded me. First, was the sense of community right from the opening speaker, in a room full of professionals, many normally contained in their respective “silos”. The speakers themselves believed in their causes completely, and their ability to shape capital expenditures toward social good. The second thing was the language of consciousness forming underneath the speakers’ themes as the day rolled on smoothly. From the beginning I had penned down in my notebook “communism/ revolution, inherent contradictions of capitalism?”, wondering how these theories I spent four years learning informed the actions of these business-people.

And there were radicals at the table! They even took the stage and talked about new currencies in terms of social capital, things likes reputation (merit for you classists out there), time banks, and fun. Yes, fun as a form of currency to transform the system of exchange. I even saw strategies for economic growth mapped out on a backdrop of the Fibbonacci Spiral, and explained in terms of “strange attractors”. The amateur physicist in me teared up with joy.

During the lunch hour I met up with my accomplice, poet Sara-Jane Gloutnez, to compose a collaboration for our performance. I crammed in a quick sandwich, which left my nervous stomach empty by the time we took the stage, so that I was shaking a little during my reading. We did our bit, and I yoked together some strange combinations like “entrepreneurial vines” and “perennial investor”. The poems will be posted on the event blog, links forthcoming.

I left the conference with a million good feels vibrating in my body, especially after hearing the soul-lifting stories of Neil Hetherington, former CEO of Habitat for Humanity, Toronto. It seemed to me there was an atmosphere of experimentation in the air, a willingness to explore ways of improving our lives beyond the traditional market and to expand the notions of life-chances beyond GDP, or even the HDI, to include people’s dignity.

The International School of Research Impact Assessment, Barcelona, September 15-19 / The International School of Research Impact Assessment, Barcelone, du 15 au 19 septembre

The International School of Research Impact Assessment will be held in Barcelona, Spain, on September 15-19, 2013. Kathryn Graham, a co-organizer of the five day school, shares some information about this exciting event in this guest post.

La première rencontre de « l’École internationale d’évaluation de l’impact de la recherche » a eu lieu à Barcelone, en Espagne, du 15 au 19 septembre 2013. Notre blogueuse invitée, Kathryn Graham, coorganisatrice de l’événement, nous renseigne ici sur cet atelier de cinq jours qui s’est avéré très stimulant.

There’s an increasing demand from governments and funding agencies to not only demonstrate the impact of their research investments but to optimize or get the most value out of those investments, particularly when taxpayer dollars are involved. This demand, in turn, requires skilled people to assess the impact or returns on investment.

Picture of a cartoon man scratching his head with a question mark appearing above his headOften, beleaguered research and program managers are the ones tasked to assess these impacts. But it’s a case of the demand for impact assessment outstripping the capacity for delivery. And there’s no formal school for this kind of training in the traditional academic setting.

This need was the inspiration for the creation of the first International School of Research Impact Assessment. The School will build capacity by teaching and equipping program, research and evaluation managers to deliver on the demand. It will provide the best advice, evidence and tools to assess the returns of investment, aka impact. The school is unique because it is international, practical (participants will walk away with a plan), broad in approach, high quality (roster of international experts as speakers and teachers), and a focus on impact. Although the focus will be on biomedicine, the knowledge gained will be applicable to other disciplines. Participants will come in with the needs of their own programs, which will span research activity across fields and sectors, and emerge with plans tailored to help their own organizations.

So who are we hoping will attend? All those who work in knowledge translation and program management in research and development for government, research funding organizations, academia, not-for-profits, industry or health industry.

Logo for The International School on Research Impact AssessmentAnd what can participants hope to gain? The goal of the curriculum is for participants to gain a broad knowledge of the “science of science”; develop and enhance skills for the planning and development of assessment studies, and understand how best to report and implement research impact assessments. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to network and exchange best practices with peers from around the world.

We encourage anyone struggling or succeeding in the area of research impact assessment to apply by May 31. And for more information on how the five days will unfold, please see the Preliminary Programme.

See you in Spain!

Kathryn Graham, PhD,  Co-organizer

Jonathan Grant, PhD,  Scientific Director

Paula Adams, PhD,  Coordinating Director

In the Knowledge and Ignorance Economies, the Innovation Broker Plays a Critical Role / Le courtier de l’innovation joue un rôle primordial dans les économies axées sur les connaissances et l’ignorance

Joanne Gaudet

In this second post on ignorance mobilization, Joanne Gaudet (PhD Candidate, Sociology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Ottawa and author of www.ignorancemobilization.com) explores the concept of innovation brokers and how it relates to the dynamics of knowledge and ignorance mobilization. Ignorance isn’t a bad thing. Joanne tells us that ignorance is an economic driver in the knowledge and the ignorance economies.

Dans cette deuxième contribution sur la mobilisation de l’ignorance, Joanne Gaudet (candidate au doctorat en sociologie, Département de sociologie et d’anthropologie, Université d’Ottawa et auteure au www.ignorancemobilization.com) explore le concept du courtier de l’innovation en lien avec les dynamiques de la mobilisation de la connaissance et de l’ignorance. Joanne nous invite à explorer l’ignorance comme moteur économique dans les économies axées sur les connaissances et l’ignorance.

Joanne Gaudet in Provence

Joanne Gaudet in Provence

This is the second of two invited posts on ignorance mobilization. In the first post, I presented ignorance mobilization and how it is complementary to knowledge mobilization.When we think of research impact in a knowledge mobilization framework, new knowledge or new technologies and applications are the first to come to mind. Thinking outside the box however, could new ignorance (i.e., new knowledge gaps understood as what we know we do not know) count as research impact? The Council of Canadian Academies certainly seems to think so. They recently added such an indicator in their expert panel document “Informing Research Choices: Indicators and Judgment: The Expert Panel on Science Performance and Research Funding”. They proposed that “expert opinion on knowledge gaps” (i.e., new ignorance) (2012:41) could be a socio-economic indicator of potential research impact. In the context of science and technology and potential future knowledge and applications, expert opinion on new ignorance could definitely be highly valuable.

In science, it is in the experimental approach that knowledge and ignorance are produced and co-produced with stakeholders (i.e., government, civil society). Experiments can lead to new knowledge, but also to the production of valuable new ignorance (including knowledge gaps). In science therefore, there is not only a knowledge economy, but also an ignorance economy where what you know that you do not know can also be extremely valuable. The concept of experiment can also go beyond the laboratory and apply in the real world.

The discussion now ties into the concept of ‘innovation broker’ used by Laurens Klerkx and Peter Gildemacher, instead of knowledge broker. To understand the role of innovation brokers in a more holistic innovation framework, I explore how at its core, and in contrast to the term knowledge broker, innovation broker allows for the critical role of ignorance. This includes how innovation brokers identify, structure, and evaluate problems in a ‘real-world experiment’ approach (outside a laboratory).

First, I look at roles. The authors propose that a central role for the innovation broker is to analyze context and articulate demand. A critical component is the assessment of problems and opportunities. What is a problem? In this context, a problem can be understood a limit or a threshold of knowledge (ignorance) for which we want to generate knowledge (i.e., a solution). To help solve a problem, innovation brokers are therefore identifying, producing, co-producing and evaluating a problem with stakeholders. As indicated in the first blog, Robert Root-Bernstein argued that this step in innovation is one of the most critical. Why? Because asking the wrong questions after having poorly identified, (co)produced and evaluated a problem not only does not lead to solutions, it also diverts precious energy and resources. A quote from Einstein highlights the value of ignorance production: “If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution”. The robust processes Klerkx and Gildemacher propose, such as – the innovation brokering functions’ generic steps, proper shaping of institutional conditions, and setting methods and indicators – are critical to co-producing and mobilizing ignorance in an effort to lead to solutions.

The real-world experiment approach innovation brokers put into action tends to follow a scientific method with stages of observation (analyze context), hypothesis formulation (identify and structure the problem), and experiment (executing set methods with clear indicators). The approach therefore prepares innovation brokers to expect surprising outcomes (where surprise potentially leads to the (co)production of new ignorance). Within well-defined parameters (not trial and error), innovation brokers can then mobilize new ignorance to learn.

Ignorance Mobilization logo

Ignorance Mobilization logo

Finally, an important component of the real-world experiment approach repeatedly promoted by the authors is to involve local actors and stakeholders. Ultimately, this ensures that (1) as many of the actors as possible are involved in co-generating and deploying the innovation strategies (i.e., co-producing and agreeing upon the ignorance to mobilize), and (2) all those involved are open to mobilizing new ignorance when facing surprising results in order to learn and change innovation direction, as needed. Just like a laboratory researcher will follow a promising lead, a researcher in the real world can also learn and adjust the course of innovation by mobilizing new ignorance.

In conclusion, is innovation broker synonymous with knowledge broker? Because ‘innovation broker’ acknowledges the interplay between ignorance mobilization and knowledge mobilization, I contend that it is not a mere synonym. Is it the right term? Perhaps not, but my proposed ‘epistemic broker’ term, although technically correct, is not as palatable… further discussion is welcome!

Caring About Ignorance and Its Mobilization / S’Intéresser à la question de l’ignorance et de sa mobilisation

Joanne Gaudet

We welcome you to 2013 and welcome guest blogger Joanne Gaudet (University of Ottawa, http://www.ignorancemobilization.com). Joanne’s work explores a concept new to many knowledge brokers: ignorance mobilization. In this first of two posts, she looks at ignorance and describes its role and mobilization in science and innovation. Let go of your preconceived negative connotations of ignorance and appreciate that ignorance is just that which we know we do not (yet) know.

Nous vous souhaitons la bienvenue en 2013 et souhaitons aussi la bienvenue à Joanne Gaudet, blogueuse invitée (Université d’Ottawa, http://www.ignorancemobilization.com).  Le travail de Joanne explore un concept nouveau pour plusieurs courtiers de connaissances : la mobilisation de l’ignorance.  Dans la première de deux contributions, elle examine l’ignorance en décrivant son rôle et sa mobilisation dans la science et l’innovation.  Débarrassez-vous de votre préconception négative de l’ignorance et estimez l’ignorance à sa juste valeur : ce que nous savons que nous ne connaissons pas (encore).

Joanne Gaudet

Joanne Gaudet

Is ignorance more valuable than knowledge in science and innovation? If so, why do we concentrate downstream on knowledge mobilization, instead of looking upstream at ignorance mobilization? In this first installment of a two-part blog, I explore my proposed concept of ‘ignorance mobilization’ as complementary to the better known ‘knowledge mobilization’ concept in research and innovation. In the second part, I will explore the link between ignorance mobilization and Laurens Klerkx and Peter Gildemacher’s 2012 article on innovation brokers.

Blog posts on the term ‘Innovation Brokers’ caught my eye and lively exchanges with David Phipps have led to this blog. What struck me about the term innovation brokers is how it captures some of the complex dynamics I observed while involved with a knowledge mobilization research project in a large science research network. I wholeheartedly agree with David Phipps’ assessment that the term innovation broker “…stretches the traditional role of knowledge brokers and places it in a more holistic innovation framework”. First things first, I tend to ignorance and ignorance mobilization.

At this point you are probably thinking – what do I mean by ignorance and ignorance mobilization? Isn’t ignorance a bad thing? Ignorance often gets a bad rap when used outside of the science and innovation context – inside science and innovation however, ignorance is valuable and is understood as a driver. For starters, look at Stuart Firestein’s 2012 book, Ignorance: How it Drives Science or David Gray’s 2003 “Wanted: Chief Ignorance Officer” (Harvard Business Review).

Ignorance for Stuart Firestein and David Gray, and for science and innovation more generally, is extremely valuable. The value lies in its potential to produce new and innovative knowledge, to drive its production. Used in this way, ignorance is the limits and the borders of knowing – or, what we know that we don’t know – questions and problems. Robert Root-Bernstein argued that the step of defining the questions and problems in innovation is one of the most critical. Why? Because asking the wrong questions after having poorly identified, structured and evaluated a problem not only does not lead to solutions (aka knowledge), it also diverts precious energy and resources.

Asking the wrong questions (aka, ill-defined ignorance) is like using the wrong key – it might fit in the lock barrel, but it does not unlock the door. To make matters worse, complex problems can have multiple keyholes. Social innovations for “wicked” problems (i.e., poverty, climate change, security, and social determinants of health), for example, can generate new ignorance in the process of attempting to mobilize knowledge to deal with complex and sometimes interwoven physical and social phenomena (see example in Phipps et al., 2012a:167). Researchers and Innovators = expert locksmiths!

An example of the value of ignorance lies in Edwin Gale’s potential explanations as to why forty years of research on the link between virus infection and human type 1 diabetes have yielded few insights. Edwin Gale proposed that researchers “…are asking the wrong question”. How could mobilizing knowledge for the wrong question be valuable? Viewed this way, caring about ignorance and mobilizing ignorance becomes worthwhile.

Why then, are we not paying attention to ignorance and ignorance mobilization? There are no easy answers, but contributing factors include an undue focus on the knowledge society

ignorance mobilization logo

Ignorance mobilization

and the bad rap ignorance gets outside of science and innovation. Stuart Firestein (page 44) supports this view when he suggests that “[i]f ignorance, even more than data, is what propels science, then it requires the same degree of care and thought that one accords data”. Scrutinizing ignorance mobilization, that I define as the use of the borders and the limits of knowing towards the achievement of goals (i.e., professional, social, cultural, political, and economic goals), is one of the strategies we can use to care about ignorance. Mobilization is the activation and application of individual or organizational resources (i.e., economic, social, human) towards achieving these goals (such as through collaboration, research, evaluation, propriety considerations, and communication).

Examples of ignorance mobilization are plentiful and insightful – but we have generally not been paying attention. In the absence of knowledge, policy makers for example, regularly mobilize scientific ignorance to develop science and R&D policy with the ultimate goal of producing and mobilizing knowledge (see William Davies 2012 article “Knowing the Unknowable: The Epistemological Authority of Innovation Policy Experts” or John Irvine and Ben Martin’s 1984 book Foresight in Science: Picking the Winners).

Science and innovation researchers for their part systematically mobilize co-produced ignorance, sometimes in competition with other ignorance claims (such as competing ignorance claims about cancer, neurodegenerative disease, climate change, social participation, or crime). The goals are also of ultimately producing knowledge. Understood this way ignorance mobilization is complementary to, and dynamically linked with, knowledge mobilization in science and business research and innovation. Brokers therefore not only mobilize knowledge, but when they reach the borders of knowledge, they also help explicitly mobilize ignorance.

To conclude, caring about ignorance and ignorance mobilization is a starting point to better understanding science and innovation. By looking upstream at ignorance and ignorance mobilization, we can hopefully better understand downstream knowledge and knowledge mobilization dynamics… and improve our locksmith skills. Further discussion is welcome!

Research Forum Provides New Perspective on Ways to End Youth Homelessness

The following was originally posted in YFile, York University’s Daily News, on November 26, 2012 and is reposted here with permission.

Homeless YouthA systems approach is needed to respond to youth homelessness in York Region and Canada. This was the message at yesterday’s research forum: Re-Imagining Our Response to Youth Homelessness: A Canadian and Global Perspective, organized by United Way York Region (UWYR) and York University at the Markham Convergence Centre.

“A multi-sectoral approach is necessary. Non-profit organizations, universities, governments and other key stakeholders have to work together to end youth homelessness and move forward with one clear vision,” said keynote speaker Stephen Gaetz, York University professor and director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network. “We need to reconsider our response to youth homelessness and shift our focus away from an emphasis on emergency supports towards prevention and rapid rehousing.”

Representatives from a variety of sectors gathered at the Markham Convergence Centre to talk about an effective response to youth homelessness in York Region and Canada.

The research forum was organized by UWYR in partnership with York University’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit through a one-year Public Outreach Grant from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Stephen Gaetz

Stephen Gaetz

“We see this event as a great opportunity to invite people to think differently about youth homelessness and learn from other jurisdictions,” said Jane Wedlock, knowledge mobilization officer, UWYR. “And we can consider whether we might explore some of these different approaches.”

Examples were drawn from different Canadian provinces and other countries that have undertaken some innovative approaches to addressing youth homelessness.

“It was impressive to see York research at a forum designed to facilitate relationship building, a two-way exchange between academic researchers and practitioners in social service provision, all with one common vision to support positive changes in addressing issues of youth homelessness in York Region,” said Michael Johnny, manager of knowledge mobilization at York University.

“Research Forums, such as the one held yesterday, are an important process of effective knowledge mobilization by creating a culture of collaboration and realizing the potential for research to have a direct and positive impact for York Region,” said Johnny.

For more information, visit the UWYR website.

KT: The Heart of the Innovation Journey / Le coeur du parcours de l’innovation

Bonnie Zink

Bonnie Zink, Corporate Writer, Researcher & Editor­­

In this guest post, Bonnie Zink writes about her experience at the recent Health Research Transfer Network of Alberta conference. From rock, paper, scissors to smart neural prostheses it sounds like this conference covered a lot of ground. Thanks Bonnie for telling us about the conference.

Dans ce billet, la blogueuse invitée Bonnie Zink relate sa participation à la récente conférence du Health Research Transfer Network of Alberta. De roche, papier, ciseaux aux prothèses neuronales intelligentes, il semble que cette conférence ait couvert bien du terrain. Merci Bonnie pour cet aperçu de la conférence.

In today’s increasingly digital and networked world, continual learning is an important part of our work. As knowledge workers, we look to connect with professionals in our field, collect a diversity of perspectives about the work that we do, and seek learning opportunities that allow us to share our experiences with and learn from each other. Conferences provide these very opportunities, but there are precious few knowledge translation (KT) specific conferences in Canada.

Nestled in the heart of Alberta, there is an annual knowledge translation specific conference, hosted by the Health Research Transfer Network of Alberta (RTNA), that helps us connect, share, and learn. Since 2002, this annual gathering of  KT professionals has provided those of us working in the KT field the opportunity to sharpen our skills, discuss advances and challenges in moving knowledge into action, maximize knowledge exchange by connecting with others in our field, and add new practices to our KT toolkits.

Day One:

The 2012 organizers define knowledge translation as a “deliberate, two-way, iterative process of using evidence to help inform decisions” and challenged participants to discover the “key ingredients for doing this successfully.” In other words, what knowledge, skills, and tools do we need to make knowledge translation effective?

Over the course of three days, we soon discovered that improving the way research is done and how results are disseminated (“Translation of Medical Evidence into Practice: Failures and Improvements” by John Ioannidis, Professor, Stanford School of Medicine) could ensure that quality evidence makes it to publication and informs the process of what should  be studied.

Susan Nall Bales, President of the Frameworks Institute, talked about “Changing the Conversation – Effectively translating Research for the Public?”  The necessity of having better information and a better grasp of research helps us make better decisions for ourselves and the communities we live in and making messages easier for people to understand will help us reach our KT goals.

Day One wrapped up with Dr. Judy Birdsell guiding us through an overview of the RTNA, currently celebrating its ten-year anniversary, its roots, and its future.  A celebratory dinner brought Doug Walker, Trigger Communications and founder of the international Rock, Paper, Scissors Society, to encourage us to think about whether an idea is valid to consider “What if [that] Idea Wasn’t Stupid?” It may be that no idea is so “stupid” that it would not succeed if promoted and executed well.

Day Two:

Rena Sorenson & Doug Walker at the Rock, Paper, Scissors Competition, RTNA KT conference 2012

Day Two was all about celebrating successful KT methods and considering solutions to the challenges many of us face while moving research into the hands of those who can use it to effectively promote positive social change.  Grouped by theme, concurrent rounds of abstract presentations addressed implementing effective KT strategies,  strategic planning methods to enable a successful KT plan, innovative approaches to KT, the role of the KT professional, and fostering collaborative partnerships between researchers, practitioners and policy makers.

Each year the best of the best receive recognition and this year’s winners were:

  • Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Abstract: Ryan McCarthy, former Director of KT at Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), for his evaluation of KT at CIHR
  • Best Poster Award: Mandy Bellows, Clinical Nurse Specialist with Alberta Health Services, for her poster on “Creating a Patient Engagement Resource Kit”
  • Best Oral Presentation Award: Heather Scarlett-Ferguson, Addiction and Mental Health with Alberta Health Services, for her innovative and creative analogy of KT being similar to map folding, “Found in Translation – Fostering Collaboration between Researchers, Practitioners, and Policy Makers.”

Lunch with the Experts is a great opportunity is a great way to connect with leading experts in a number of fields. Participants were able to connect with best practices about using video effectively, communities of practice, ethics for community-based research and evaluation, using Wikis, navigating the policy world, and facilitating conversations.

Day Two wrapped up with Dave Walker and Doug Walker encouraging us to resist the temptation to focus on the tools and technology involved in social media and to focus on discovering the why of what we are doing when it comes to social media. The “Social Media Cafe” introduced us to proven processes that leading organizations use to understand their unique social media opportunities and develop meaningful strategies that deliver results.  Both presenters reminded us that social is people and not technology – it is all about building relationships and making the  connections that matter.

Day Three:

John Lavis

The conference wrapped up with Dr. John Lavis, Professor and Director at McMaster Health Forum, providing a brief overview of the state of research and its role in supporting evidence- informed policymaking.  Dr. Vivian Mushahwar, Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, followed with a tale of innovation and lessons learned as the Smart Neural Prostheses interdisciplinary team navigated the KT journey as they brought Smart-e Pants from discovery to product launch.

One way to accomplish our learning objectives is to attend quality conferences, which allow us to make the connections that matter, learn new skills, and discover best practices in order to improve our own practice.