KMb Journal Club / Le comité de lecture de la MdC

Every month, David Phipps (RIR-York) reviews a different academic journal article related to knowledge mobilization and posts his review, along with questions, on the ResearchImpact – Réseau Impact Recherche Journal Club page of our O3 space. Here is a summary of this month’s Journal Club entry.

Chaque mois, David Phipps (RIR-York) rend compte d’un article qui, paru dans un périodique universitaire, traite de la mobilisation des connaissances. Son compte rendu, accompagné de questions, est affiché sur la page Club de lecture du Réseau Impact Recherche/ResearchImpact Journal Club, dans notre espace O3. Voici un résumé de la lecture du mois.

This month’s article

Amo, C. (2007). Conceptualizing research impact: The case of education research. The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 22(1), 75-98.

Article abstract

This qualitative study aims at conceptualizing research impact generally by studying the specific case of research impact in the field of education. An analysis process akin to grounded theory was applied to the analysis of sections of reports provided by educational researchers. Literature on the subject of research impact was used to substantiate and complete the portrait of educational research impact that emerged from the data. The resulting conceptual framework proposes five interdependent stages, each one characteristic of certain categories of research impact that are typically interrelated in time and in terms of researcher control. It is hoped that this conceptual framework will help program evaluators and researchers tackle the larger task of uncovering and arguing the meaningfulness of alternative ways of measuring the impacts of research in the social sciences and humanities.

David’s full review of this article and his questions for knowledge brokers is available at Read the article and post your comments on the Journal Club page!

Maximizing the Benefits of Research / Maximiser les bénéfices de la recherche

David Phipps, RIR-York

While busy brokering and building capacity for knowledge mobilization York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has also been publishing peer reviewed articles on their practice. These 10 publications (and more are on their way) are posted in the Knowledge Mobilization community of York’s institutional repository.  This new monthly post will feature a different article and the accompanying ResearchSnapshot clear language research summary.

Tout en travaillant au courtage des connaissances et au renforcement des capacités de mobilisation, le service de MdC de York a publié, dans des revues avec comité de lecture, des articles portant sur ses pratiques. Ces dix publications (d’autres suivront bientôt) sont accessibles à partir de la page thématique de la MdC, dans les archives informatiques de York. Cette nouvelle parution mensuelle sera composée d’un article accompagné de sa capsule “FlashRecherche” – un résumé vulgarisé des travaux présentés.

ResearchSnapshot logo


Maximizing the benefits of research 

What you need to know. When research is easier to access, it supports closer collaboration between the different groups that are affected by it. Universities, communities, government agencies and businesses can improve their collaboration with other sectors to apply research findings to real world problems and maximize the impacts of research.

What is the research about?  Knowledge mobilization (KMb) and social innovation gets university research into the hands of policy makers, businesses, and community groups. These stakeholders increase the social, economic and environmental impacts of research by using it to improve the wellbeing of people and our planet. Thus, research must speak to different industries and communities to see its effect on the social economy. A stronger social economy can emerge if we work together, finish projects, join knowledge, and set goals. This study explains the relationship between people doing research, people who need that research, and its relevance to society. KMb and social innovation finds ways to collaborate and communicate it to make the world a better place.

What did the researchers do? The authors studied literature and practices in universities, community groups, and the government. They wanted to see how effectively research was being used after it was completed. They reviewed social innovation trends and suggested ways to make research easier to access and understand for these stakeholders.

What did the researchers find? A brief description of research findings allows interested stakeholders to recognize and access the full report quickly. Social Innovation can thrive when we share our research findings and open up communication between different sectors. Knowledge brokers play an important role in KMb. They help stakeholders in different sectors connect with research to improve its impact. The authors also suggested ways to improve communication and collaboration among government agencies, universities, and community groups. These included:

  • Improve KMb strategies to strengthen the impact of research and social innovation;
  • Develop sustained funding programs to help researchers and their community partners collaborate more effectively;
  • Open and increase communication among government, community groups, businesses and researchers;
  • Train and create a community of KMb and social innovation leaders and practitioners and stay connected.

How can you use this research? Businesses may use this research to improve innovation and social enterprise through access to research. Policy makers may consider developing a strategy to improve relations with universities through KMb. Academic researchers may also use this work to leverage investment in their research and maximize social innovation through their findings. Community groups can access research easily and use it to improve current and future programs and services. Community-based research also becomes more accessible to different universities when partnered with universities through KMb.

About the Researchers:  David Phipps is Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services at York University. Naomi Nichols is a Research Associate for York University and the Canadian Homelessness Research Network. Johanne Provençal is the Acting Director, Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Vice President Research Innovation at the University of Toronto. Allyson Hewitt is the Director of Social Entrepreneurship and Advisor of Social Innovation for SIG@MaRS Discovery District located in Toronto, Ontario.

Reference: Nichols, N., Phipps, D., Provencal, J., Hewitt, A. (2013) Knowledge mobilization, collaboration, and social innovation: Leveraging investments in higher education. Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, 4(1): 25-42.

The full article is available online here.

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.

Community Based Research Inventory Enhances Access to Research in Toronto / Un inventaire de la recherche communautaire facilite l’accès à la recherche à Toronto

Michael Johnny, RIR – York

A new inventory of Community Based Research (CBR) released by the York University – TD Community Engagement Centre (CEC) will help support knowledge mobilization.

Un nouvel inventaire de la recherche communautaire lancé par York University – TD Community Engagement Centre (CEC) facilitera la mobilisation des connaissances.

Accessing research is a significant challenge for effective knowledge mobilization (KMb). Traditional research is disseminated via scholarly publication; but Community Based Research does not always get published, which leaves a gap. What projects have been undertaken, who are leaders in research in my community, and how can one access past research findings are all relevant questions which consume time and energy for researchers – both academics and community-based researchers, as well as community leaders.  The York University – TD Community Engagement Centre (CEC) has developed a new and innovative resource to help answer these questions within the Jane-Finch/Black Creek community of Toronto.  A new Community-Based Research (CBR) Inventory, an online resource, will support access and exchange of information on past and current projects, promote collaboration, and ultimately promote positive change and social equity in this community.

The CEC is committed to promoting knowledge that us useful and germane to the community—knowledge that the community has helped produce—while simultaneously acknowledging the expertise that exists outside the university structure. CBR involves the cooperation of many stakeholders and this inventory is part of the CEC’s efforts to showcase the efforts and results of past and current research so that researchers are able to build on what’s gone before and create initiatives based on what’s already been done; and so that the community is in a better position to see and evaluate the relevance to issues they’ve identified as important.

With this new resource being recently released there is excitement and anticipation that this CBR Inventory can help support the information sharing process which is critical for KMb.  As a knowledge broker at York University, I know first-hand of other communities and thematic disciplines which would welcome the chance to access such a resource.  Yet it is important at this stage to effectively pilot this tool, explore its operational functionality, enable the CEC to gauge its effectiveness and also explore how it would like to consider scaling this tool, so I will preach patience and help promote this as a significant opportunity for researchers, community leaders and decision makers to access resources and information that is important to them and their work.  Congratulations to the CEC on an impressive project which has far-reaching potential in supporting KMb!

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

David Phipps, RIR – York

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

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

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

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

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

Word cloud of key words in profiles: Followers of RIR

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

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

Continue reading

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.

Just do it / Faites le!

David Phipps, RIR-York

David Phipps has taken a break to read some journal articles that have been piling up. Reading about the science of knowledge mobilization is good. Getting out and actually mobilizing knowledge is better.

David Phipps a pris une pause pour lire quelques articles de journaux qui s’étaient empilés. Lire sur la science de la mobilisation des connaissances, c’est bien. Sortir et vraiment mobiliser les connaissances, c’est mieux.

I had some time to sit back and read some recent issues of Evidence and Policy and came across the following article- Adrian Cherney and Brian Head (2011) Supporting the knowledge-to-action process: a systems-thinking approach. Evidence and Policy. 7(4): 471-488.

Cherny and Head developed a holistic model supporting the knowledge-to-action (KTA) process based on systems thinking. It is based on 9 C’s: communication, capacity, competency, compatibility, committment, collaboration, creativity, compliance, champions (see figure). Like the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARiHS) framework (see below), this is another model that helps practitioners think about our practie but it is not a practice per se. Cherny and Head say, “We have purposely focused on the principle and processes that should underpin a support system for enhancing the KTA process.  While infrastructure is central to the delivery of such support it is important to specify principles rather than physical activities because we want to highlight the building blocks for an effective support system relevant across a range of contexts.” Cherny and Head are explicitly saying that they chose to focus on thinking about it rather doing it.

It reminded me of a recent article in Implementation Science- Cheryl B Stetler, Laura J Damschroder, Christian D Helfrich and Hildi J Hagedorn (2011) A guide for applying a revised version of the PARIHS framework for implementation. Implementation Science. 6(99).

The PARiHS framework was developed to help understand those elements that contribute to successful implementation of evidence into practice in health care settings. The PARiHS framework is a function of the interplay of three core elements: 1) the level and nature of the evidence; 2) the context or environment into which the evidence is to be placed; and 3) the method or way in which the process is facilitated. By 2010 there had been 32 papers published on the PARiHS framework, but according to Stetler et al (2011), “No published studies were identified that used the framework comprehensively and prospectively to develop an implementation project. The ability to fully evaluate its usefulness thus has been limited.” The authors mean that this framework is a way of thinking about practice, not a practice per se. For more on the PARiHS framework see the KMb Journal club post.

It must be nice to be able to think about something and never have to do it.

But then that’s the role of researchers in many fields. Researchers think about things and study things without actually doing the things they study. Then there’s the role of practitioners.  We do things without having incentives or rewards (ie the time) to sit back and think about and reflect upon what we do.

I wrote about this on February 1, 2012 when I wrote that we were all knowledge hypocrites. We need more mobilization of knowledge about knowledge mobilization. Researchers need to move beyond thinking about frameworks to working with practitioners who are putting those frameworks into practice. Practitioners likewise need to embed researchers in their practice. At York we are starting a conversation among our engaged scholars and knowledge mobilization projects and their embedded knowledge brokers. Our goal is to inform our practice by working directly with our researchers. That’s also what the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum will start to address. By mixing knowledge mobilization researchers and practitioners it will sow the seeds of mutually beneficial researcher-practitioner relationships. Join many of your knowledge mobilization colleagues in Ottawa on June 19-20.

I have also written that what we do as knowledge brokers isn’t rocket science (see point #2 in a recent journal club).  Knowledge brokering is as much common sense as it is implementation of frameworks. But these frameworks are the opposite, presenting complicated inter-relations of elements, stages and components all designed to maximize the impact of research and evidence on decision making without ever having been evaluated to see if the outcomes support that design. If I had to think of all the elements and sub elements of the PARiHS framework and all 9 C’s of the systems thinking model before addressing any knowledge mobilization opportunity I would be paralyzed, unable to figure what to do first.

I read the literature.  I engage with researchers.  That is important, for sure. And then I just do it.