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 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 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, 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,  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.

Knowledge Mobilization Documents Best Practices for Clear Language Research Summaries

The following was originally posted in YFile, York University’s Daily News, on October 23, 2012 and is reposted here with permission.

When it comes to conveying the important research to the broader community, clear language summaries are the best choice, this according to a new article published in the peer-reviewed journal, Scholarly & Research Communications.

Led by David Phipps, executive director of research & innovation services, and colleagues from York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit (KMb), the group put pen to paper to highlight their experiences in summarizing academic research according to clear language writing and design principles over the past four years and how that practice has made research more accessible to the community.

The article titled, “A Field Note Describing the Development and Dissemination of Clear Language Research Summaries for University-Based Knowledge Mobilization”, highlights best practices for the development, evaluation and dissemination of clear language research summaries as tools for research outreach, research communication and knowledge mobilization.  It is co-authored by Michael Johnny, manager, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, Krista Jensen, knowledge mobilization officer at York University and Gary Myers, a community based researcher and author of the blog.

“Working with our partners and faculty to identify relevant research helps make York’s research accessible and useful to our community partners” says Phipps.

York University piloted institutional knowledge mobilization with the University of Victoria in 2005 under a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Since then, York University has grown its knowledge mobilization collaboration with the University of Victoria to include the other four ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities: Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador, Université du Québec à Montréal, University of Guelph and University of Saskatchewan.

York currently has more than 220 clear language research summaries in a series titled ResearchSnapshot, which is published on Research Impact blog. Working with a cohort of senior undergraduate work study students, the University’s KMb Unit produces between 40 to 50 research summaries every summer.

“York is proud of the work of our award-winning KMb Unit in connecting researchers and students with community partners for social innovation.  As a recognized leader in knowledge mobilization initiatives, York’s work and reputation in this field continues to grow both nationally and internationally,” said Robert Hache, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “The article written by David Phipps and his KMb colleagues provides a framework for others interested in learning more about best practices and York’s initiatives in this area.”

”SRC and its readers are very interested in the communication and use of knowledge as mediated by processes such as knowledge mobilization,” says Rowland Lorimer, SRC editor and director of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University. “The work of David Phipps and his knowledge mobilization colleagues at York University is of growing interest to scholars and research partners who are interested in communicating and using knowledge to benefit Canadians. SRC is pleased they have chose to publish their work with us.”

York University’s KMb Unit and the University of Guelph Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship have recently partnered in support of a project funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to produce clear language summaries of research at the University of Guelph. The KMb Unit is also working on clear language research summaries with the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health Evidence Exchange Network and the Knowledge Network for Applied Education & Research, a knowledge mobilization network funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Education of which York’s Faculty of Education is a partner. With these partnerships in place, York will be hosting over 500 ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries.

To read the full text of the article, click here. To view the ResearchSnapshot for this article, click here.

Knowledge Mobilisers: Putting Research into Practice (and Policy)

The following was originally posted on The Guardian’s Higher Education Network blog on October 9, 2012 and is reposted here with permission.

Maximising the impact of research on society depends on universities brokering the right partnerships with public policy, says David Phipps – and Canada is leading the way.

Good research should have a ripple effect on society and knowledge mobilisation can push it out.

Earlier this year on the Higher Education Network, I introduced knowledge mobilisation as a university-based process that connects academic social sciences and humanities research to non-academic decision makers to inform decisions about public policy and professional practice, enhance social innovation and develop sustainable solutions to social, environmental, economic and cultural challenges.

I then reflected on its past – the roots of knowledge mobilisation as we now understand it. In this third installment, I return to the present to see how York University in Toronto is supporting collaborations between researchers and partner to maximise the impact of research on society.

We started York University’s knowledge mobilisation practice by trying to push out existing research results to find “receptors” and soon realised that we needed more interactive methods of closing the gap that exists between research within a higher education context and the policy and practice which could use it. Researchers and their partners need to find a middle ground in which to collaborate so that research not only meets the academic standards of scholarship but is also relevant to non-academic partners.

Today York University’s knowledge mobilisation unit uses a suite of services available to faculty and students from all disciplines across the university. Our knowledge mobilisation staff help faculty and partners identify and develop research collaborations through meetings support, student interns and the use of social media as a connecting channel. We have recently published a report on our full range of services.

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Using Research to Influence Family Services and Policies

The following was first published on Centre for Research on Families and Relationships’ (CRFR) blog and is reposted here with permission.
CRFR co-director Sarah Morton and colleagues Sandra Nutley (Director of the Research Unit for Research Utilisation, and David Phipps (Director of Research Servics & Knowledge Exchange at York University, Canada) offer seven lessons, and associated challenges, to improve how research is used in policy and practice in a recent article in the new journal Families Societies and Relationships.
  1. Set realistic ambitions and expectations: Research is one form of knowledge that policy makers and practitioners will be using, but it is rare for research to have the definitive word.
  2. Improve research strategies to ensure they address relevant issues and expand our knowledge base rather than unwittingly replicate existing studies. Reviewing research and evaluation processes helps to ensure that research responds to relevant issues and address the main knowledge gaps.
  3. Shape – as well as respond to – policy and practice debates: Take up opportunities to influence policy and practice debates when they appear, – rather than waiting for opportunities to open up, work with advocacy organisations to raise issues of concern and get debates going.
  4. Create dialogue around research by pulling together different perspectives: Research on its own does not create change, but it can influence it. Encourage dialogues between people that recognises research needs to interact with practice experience and tacit knowledge.
  5. Recognise the role of dedicated knowledge broker organisations and networks: There are increasing numbers of knowledge broker organisations and networks who can help to facilitate the creation, sharing and application of research-based knowledge.
  6. Target multiple audiences to increase the reach and impact of your message: Disseminate research findings into wider political and public debate, alongside more targeted approaches. This might be targeting influential people, participating in media debates, speaking at policy and practice conferences and seminars or responding to consultation processes.
  7. Evaluate, learn, improve: Knowledge exchange is still an immature discipline; only through improved evaluation and learning will our understanding of effective strategies develop over time.
Don’t forget that challenges remain:

A New Development in the World of ResearchSnapshots / Un nouveau développement dans le monde des faits saillants de recherche

Jason Guriel, Evidence Exchange Network

ResearchImpact’s ResearchSnapshot database makes research on climate change, homelessness, and other important topics accessible to a wide range of audiences. But the latest additions to the library – created by Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) – bring an enhanced focus on mental health and addictions research, especially as it relates to Ontario.

Les faits saillants du Réseau Impact Recherche rendent accessibles les recherches sur les changements climatiques, les sans-abris, et d’autres sujets importants à une large audience. Mais les derniers ajouts à la bibliothèque – par Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) – apportent une meilleure représentation des recherches sur la santé mentale et sur les dépendances, notamment en ce qui concerne l’Ontario.

You may not have noticed, but ResearchImpact’s collection of Research Snapshots just got a little bit bigger—a new batch of user-friendly summaries has joined the library!

But why should you care? Isn’t there already a wealth of information to browse? Well, there certainly is; ResearchImpact offers a valuable resource that makes research on climate change, homelessness, and other important topics accessible to a wide range of audiences.

But these latest ResearchSnapshots – created by Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) – bring to ResearchImpact’s library an enhanced focus on mental health and addictions research, especially as it relates to Ontario. Indeed, as a knowledge exchange network, one of EENet’s goals is to ensure that evidence informs the mental health and addictions system in the province. These new Snapshots are a key part of that effort.

We hope that you take a moment to browse through the mental health and addiction / substance use sections of ResearchImpact’s library. Discover what young bloggers are saying about mental health. Find out how we can improve social inclusion for people with mental health issues. Learn about the impact that neighbourhood ‘connectedness’ can have on teen drug use.

And we hope that you come back for more! ResearchImpact is adding new Snapshots by EENet on a regular basis. In fact, thanks to our partnership with ResearchImpact, EENet was able to hire a talented writer, Maia Miller, who has been helping the network create a whole new batch of Snapshots on mental health and addictions.

The EENet Management and Resource Centre is located in the Provincial System Support Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. To learn more about EENet – and to discover other products and tools, beyond ResearchSnapshots – visit today!

Jason Guriel is a Communications Associate for Evidence Exchange Network.

A Scottish Visit to Canada / Une visite écossaise au Canada

Sian Ringrose, Scottish Agricultural College

In June 2012, Sian Ringrose from the Scottish Agricultural College visited Canada for some professional development in knowledge mobilization and rural policy. She spent one week with RIR-York and one week with RIR-Guelph. She also attended a rural policy school in Quebec and then some play time in New York City.  She tells her story below.

En juin 2012, Sian Ringrose, du Scottish Agricultural College, a visité le Canada à des fins de développement professionnel en mobilisation des connaissances et en politiques rurales. Elle a passé une semaine en compagnie de RIR-York et une autre avec RIR-Guelph. Elle a également assisté, au Québec, à une École d’été sur les politiques rurales en plus de séjourner quelques temps dans la ville de New York. Elle raconte son histoire ci-bas.

I recently returned to the UK from a month long visit to the provinces of Québec and Ontario, Canada.  This was a welcome change from my usual base at SAC (Scottish Agricultural College) in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was rather damp and chilly when I left in Mid-June.

On a knowledge transfer and exchange grant from the Farmer’s Club Charitable Trust Fund I was on a quest to learn about international rural policy, knowledge mobilization (KMb) and integrating research with knowledge translation and transfer programmes.  A particular aspect of my trip was to identify ways in which young people can be encouraged into agriculture, and to highlight the variety of agricultural and rural job opportunities available to young people today.

My tour of Canada began in the city of Montréal, Québec.  I was to attend a two week summer school on International Comparative Rural Policy (ICRPS). Staying in the Grey Nun’s Residences, of Concordia’s University I quickly realised the joys of air conditioning, and the discomfort of high temperatures twinned with high humidity!

Over the next three days we had guest speakers from; Rio Tinto-Alcan (the worlds largest producers of Aluminium); the Union des producterus agricoles (UPA – the UK’s equivalent of the National Farming Union) to sustainable food systems in the Montréal Region.  After living the city life we headed North to Québec City, then onwards to the more rural North-East town of Rimouski.

After two weeks travelling through rural Québec we eventually landed back in Montréal just in time for the end of the Jazz festival.  Definitely worth the visit for anyone who likes to sit outside in the sun, with a glass of wine listening to free musical performances – and a welcomed break after 14 straight days of work.

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Collaborate Collaborate Collaborate

The following was first published on ORION’s blog ORIONxchange and is reposted here with permission.

Collaboration has emerged as a key feature of many research programs. ORION’s O3 system and York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit are a perfect combination to support research collaborations to maximize the impact of research on society.

By David Phipps, York University

It used to be location location location for real estate. Then content was king. I have heard Peter Levesque (@KMbW_Updates) say that sharing is the new selfish….I think he means that sharing has replaced selfish (“knowledge is power”) as a new paradigm for work and life.

We recently published a knowledge synthesis exploring how to leverage investments in higher education research & development. Our paper titled Knowledge Mobilization and Social Innovation are Integral Components of Innovation Strategies to Leverage Investments in Higher Education concluded that “central to each section of this report is the pressing need for improved collaboration among Canada’s higher education institutions, governments, industry and community organizations.” Building on Peter’s sharing is the new selfish, the key to turning research into action for economic, social and environmental benefits is to collaborate.

Collaborate Collaborate Collaborate.

That is the message behind the Governor General’s Community Campus Collaboration (CCC) Initiative. In his opening addressto Congress 2012 he said that the Community-Campus Collaborations Initiative “is quite simply a superb initiative. It will help us ensure that social innovation is a key component of Canada’s innovation landscape. This initiative also provides us with a catalytic vehicle to apply knowledge and develop experiential learning”. It is the message behind York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit that provides a suite of services to support collaboration between researchers/students and their research partners from the (mainly) public and community sectors.

Collaboration is why York University uses ORION’s O3 system as their on line collaboration tool. There has been a recent discussion on the Canadian Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Community of Practice list about collaboration platforms. Basecamp. Sharepoint. Drupal. Drop box etc. etc. etc. and we promoted O3. We use O3 as an intranet to manage the business of York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit as well as the operations of ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR), Canada’s knowledge mobilization network. With the introduction of 4 new RIR universities a couple of years ago we are already in the position of needing to go in and reorganize/rationalize our naming conventions and file/folder structures. That’s what happens when more and more people start to use a system that evolved more than it was planned.

TIP #1: Be conscious about your plan to use collaboration software but be open to modifying that plan as more users come on board.

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