Post Cards from Congress – Day 5

Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake

View of Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake

Krista Jensen, RIR-York

What are the chances?

On Wednesday morning at breakfast, I grabbed the first seat I could find at a table where five people were chatting with each other.  Unlike my fellow York KMb colleagues, Michael and David, I am decidedly not a morning person and don’t have a lot to say before I have some coffee, so I was concentrating on my breakfast when I suddenly heard, “I think Yaffle is the best example of that”. For readers who may not know, Yaffle is an online platform that connects innovators in Newfoundland and Labrador with knowledge and expertise at Memorial University and is a tool used by RIR members The Harris Centre.

It turns out the topic of their conversation was the development a database to help match up researchers and community partners for collaborative research projects. I talked to them about our brokering activities at York and how we mainly rely on our networks to identify possible partnerships.

But this question of using a database to identify potential research partners came up a few more times during the day. I was asked by a few visitors to our booth if we use a database in our brokering activities. This got me thinking about the value of using this type of tool for research collaborations.

Besides the usual technical complications of developing and maintaining this type of database, I wonder about its role in identifying and supporting research partnerships- Would it replace face-to-face brokering? Would it compliment it? Would it just be a starting place for the partnership or could you potentially establish a “virtual” partnership, say on a global research project?

Not sure I have the answers to these questions. I would be interested in hearing other people’s views on the subject. Does anyone have any experience using databases for knowledge brokering? How does it fit in with face-to-face brokering?

RIR Brokers – Sharing Stories / Courtiers RIR – Partage Histoires!

A recent Skype teleconference allowed brokers of ResearchImpact – RèsearcuImpactRecherche to share and exchange stories of engagement events, showing we have much in common!

Une récente téléconférence Skype permis courtiers de ResearchImpact – RèsearcuImpactRecherche de partager et échanger des histoires d’événements d’engagement, montrant nous avons beaucoup en commun!


The technology worked well and six RIR brokers were able to convene to share and exchange stories of recent events our offices hosted. The purpose of the conversation was to listen to Manager of Knowledge Mobilization, Bojan Fürst, of Memorial University, share details of the highly successful MUNbuttoned events last fall which saw three back-to-back-to-back evenings hosted in St.John’s around topics of natural sciences, social and economic research, and arts and heritage.  Based on activities and projects supported by KMb at MUN, researchers engaged with the public in quick roundtable presentations in a beautiful community space in St. John’s.   The real success, as shared by Bojan, was engagement and allowing MUN researchers a chance to talk about their research off campus.  The creative use of space – the events took place in open community space above a bakery in St. John’s – which allowed for inclusive participation from community members and is a critical consideration for any successful KMb event.  The team at the Harris Centre provided excellent support to help make the evenings a success and now part of regular annual service by KMb at MUN.  With this fall being the 10th Anniversary of KMb at MUN, there promises to be more exciting events!

Having RIR Brokers meet on Skype allowed for questions and chances to learn good practices in KMb. Several brokers have less than two years’ experience in their role and this regular conversation space allows for dialogue on issues which are important to us in supporting KMb within our respective institutions.  The success of Memorial’s MUNbuttoned event provided us all an opportunity to share recent outreach and engagement successes.  University of Victoria knowledge broker Tara Todesco share of her work in leading IDEAfest which had 58 separate activities taking place across campus over the course of a week.   For the Ontario RIR brokers who were on Skype, we shared our recent SSHRC supported Pecha Kucha-style events which were supported under the Imagining Canada’s Future events which SSHRC recently released.

The conversation flowed freely and there were several questions which people had throughout our hour long talk. We have agreed to share and exchange workplans and lessons learned from this work.  The opportunity to help each other and provide ongoing and active support in our roles as knowledge brokers is the essence of the RIR network.   On April 30, Anne Bergen from University of Guelph will lead the next conversation where she will provide an overview of her work at Guelph which – like all of us – has unique local and institutional elements which shape the development and delivery of KMb services.

The Potential of Sharing: University-Community Partnerships Proving Successful

This article was first published by The Western Star, Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador on June 14, 2013. Corner Brook was hosting the Community University Expo 2013. RIR is pleased that The Western Star chose to feature Krista Jensen (RIR-York) speaking about the RIR collaboration that involves Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (RIR-MUN).

For the original post please see:


By Adam Harnum

Special to The Starphoto_2364638_resize_article

CORNER BROOK — The sound of voices echoed the halls of Grenfell Campus’ new Arts and Science extension Thursday afternoon, as people from the community and universities across the country gathered to share their community-university partnerships and engagement initiatives with anyone interested in listening. Krista Jensen, a knowledge mobilization officer at York University in Toronto was present at the Engagement Fair, an event scheduled as part of the CU Expo 2013, and was willing to shed light into their partnership with Memorial called Research Impact.

“Research Impact is a network of 10 universities across Canada that each have their own knowledge mobilization unit,” she explained.

Jensen added that the Harris Centre at MUN has been their partner for a number of years.

“So each unit works to connect research and researchers with external groups such as committee members, government, private industry, basically anything that is policy ot practice relevant,” said Jensen.

She said it works both ways, in the sense that either a faculty member can come looking for new partners they might be interested in pairing with, or the community member who is looking for research expertise can come to them for help with
a project.

“We don’t actually do the research ourselves, but we can match them up,” said Jensen of those seeking research assistance.

Carol Galliott, a spectator who visited the Research Impact Network booth, felt the information provided to her was clear and interesting.

“She told me that 10 universities across the country were working together to look at research,” added Galliott. She further elaborated that the group of universities started off in Victoria, B.C. but has since expanded to 10 and Memorial is one of the universities which share and work together to make research more usable and more accessible throughout the network.

“Sometimes we don’t know what services are out there so pulling people together and sharing what each has to offer,” said Galliott of the Engagement Fair.

Jensen shares much the same feelings as her spectator in relation to the potential of such an event.

“It is really great to hear what other people are saying and maybe they are developing tools that we can use for our local community.” said Jensen. “The capacity to just learn from one another is valuable.”

Jensen does credit Memorial for being involved in engagement fairs for such a long time, and admits that when York University first got involved with the events, Memorial was one of the first places her manager contacted regarding information.

“They were just so helpful in sending us information about how they have been doing and we have taken some of that and adapted it for our own local purposes.”

Quantitative Evaluation (and a little shameless self-promotion) / Évaluation quantitative (et un peu d’autopromotion éhontée)

By David Phipps, RIR-York

Amanda Cooper (@ACooperKMb) recently released her evaluation of 44 Canadian Research Brokering Organizations. She presents a quantitative method for evaluating the effort of a system of knowledge mobilization.

Amanda Cooper (@ACooperKMb) a récemment dévoilé son évaluation de 44 organisations canadiennes de courtage de recherche. Elle présente une méthode d’évaluation quantitative visant à mesurer les efforts d’un système de mobilisation des connaissances.

Knowledge mobilization struggles with evaluation.  Evaluating an individual instance of knowledge mobilization is feasible with the right base line and pre/post intervention metrics. But rolling that up and evaluating a system of knowledge mobilization (like any one of the knowledge mobilization units in the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche network) has so far proven challenging.

So thank you, Amanda Cooper (Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario). Amanda recently posted a report titled “Knowledge mobilization in education: A cross-case analysis of 44 research brokering organizations across Canada”. Amanda developed a quantitative methodology to evaluate the efforts of Canadian research brokering organizations (RBOs). The methodology is based on the evidence about research utilization. We know that people centred methods encourage greater research use than do those based solely on making package knowledge accessible to decision makers. In the words of Sandra Nutley and her colleagues in Using Evidence, “[p]ersonal contact is crucial … studies suggest that it is face-to-face interactions that are most likely to encourage policy and practice uses of research” (page 74).  In Amanda’s methodology points are assigned depending on how the RBO employs products (12 points), events (20 points) and networks (20 points) as well as overall features (20 points). You can see that more points are assigned to people centred methods (events and networks) than are assigned to purely product based methods. How points are assigned is detailed in Appendix B of her report.

Amanda used RBO’s web sites as the data source and scored each of the 44 RBOs on a scale out of 100. Amanda cites ResearchImpact as one of the RBOs but the data she used pulled from York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. The Harris Centre, another RIR member, is also included separately as one of the 44 RBOs.

Key Point #1: This is a quantitative methodology that is reliable and reproducible citing satisfaction with the inter-rater reliability testing of the tool and the average intra-class correlation coefficient.

Key Point #2: This method evaluates a system of knowledge mobilization not the efficacy of an individual knowledge mobilization intervention.

Key Point #3: This method measures the efforts of Canadian RBOs. It does not measure impact of the RBOs efforts. That more effective RBO efforts will result in greater impact of those efforts is a testable hypothesis, but it makes sense that this would be the case.

Key Point #4 (shameless self-promotion alert): RIR-York achieved the highest score in this study.

Each with a score of 81%, RIR-York tied with the Fraser Institute and Canadian Education Association as the top performing RBOs. Fraser Institute achieved this score with a budget of $12.8M. CEA achieved this score with a budget of $2M. York’s budget for knowledge mobilization is approximately $250,000. RIR-York accomplished the same effort on a fraction of the budget. The data from the top nine ranked RBOs is presented below.











Size (FTE)



Score on KMb Matrix (%)


1.2.1 RI

NfP, university research centre



Small (3)

$250 000


1.2.4 Fraser

NfP, think tank


Large (60)



1.4.2 CEA

Memb, network


Small (9)




1.2.4 AIMS

NfP, think tank


Small (5)

$872 234



1.2.0 CCL

NfP, general


Large (77)



1.2.3 The Centre

NfP, issue-based


Large (25)




1.2.0 TLP

NfP, general


Large (74)



1.2.1 HC

NfP university research centre



Med (11)



1.2.0 CCBR

NfP, general


Med (12)



1.1.2 E-BEST

Gov, district level


Small (6.5)



1.2.1 CEECD

NfP, university research centre



Small (9)


1.2.2 P4E

NfP, advocacy


Small (9)



1.2.3 LEARN

NfP, issue-based


Large (33)




1.2.1 HELP

NfP, university research centre



Large (50)




1.1.3 CSC

Gov, standards


Large (20)



We need more research like this into the processes of knowledge mobilization, engaged scholarship and community based research. Much of what we know comes from individual studies of individual instances of knowledge mobilization. As these activities become more embedded in institutions and systems we will increasingly need research on these systems and how they create infrastructure to support the individual instances. You can read more on other methods for evaluating the impact of research like Payback and Productive Interactions in a 2011 Special Edition (Volume 20, Number 3) of the journal, Research Evaluation.

Thank you to Amanda for your important contributions to this emerging field.

Postcards from Congress – Day 7: Thanks to WLU and UW

So, it’s our last day (and a short one at that)! But even though it’s only a two hour window here at the Book Fair, there is opportunity for conversation. Take earlier this morning, for example- a visitor from the University of Waterloo who had “Mr. Congress” on his nametag! Last evening we had a chance to speak briefly with the President of Wilfrid Laurier University, Dr. Max Blouw. Congress truly is a meeting place. And as we get ready to pack up after a successful week (more later about reflections and numbers), we want to express our thanks to the host institutions and the Federation.

Having two universities hosting Congress is an excellent example of collaboration and this was not lost on the staff of RIR. Both institutions worked tirelessly to support delegates, even through the summer heat and a fall-like monsoon. A special shout out to student volunteers who went above and beyond to provide support. That kind of service does not go unnoticed!

For RIR, it was a week full of conversation, deliberation and innovation. York U and Memorial U’s knowledge brokers worked the exhibit booth and had opportunities to share important messages about our work, learn about our own respective services and build relationships within the RIR team that will strengthen our own efforts moving forward. So as we break out our packing tape, thanks to Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo for creating the meeting place for the RIR network!

Post Cards from Congress Day 6 – Congress is a Marathon

On day six of Congress, the second last day, we have rain. Union Station in Toronto is flooded. Waterloo airport is cancelling flights. And the book fair is quiet with scholars staying dry and collaborating in their own scholarly associations on University of Waterloo campus and avoiding the cold wet trek to Wilfrid Laurier University campus.

But the RIR booth is full with Michael Johnny, Krista Jensen and David Phipps from York and Bojan Furst from Memorial answering questions from book fair attendees. We are pleased to have welcomed questions from across Canada and even from American and British delegates. With the introduction of knowledge mobilization strategies in SSHRC Insight Grant applications, the KMb Units in the RIR network and the services we provide to grant applicants is the envy of many universities.

Looking back on a week of mobilizing knowledge about knowledge mobilisation at Congress 2012 we realize that this is definitely an emerging focus in Canadian schoalrship. We have had 174 substantive conversations about RIR and knowledge mobilization. We have spoken to faculty at 26 universities who wish their institution had a knowledge mobilization unit. There is appetite for and appreciation of knowledge mobilization as an integral part of engaged research and learning.

But at the end of day 6 we are pleased it’s quiet in the book fair. Time for one last President’s Reception. So long as the rain lets up.

And next year we go back to our knowledge mobilization roots. We look forward to joining our first knowledge mobilization collaborators at the University of Victoria which is hosting Congress 2013.

Front row l to r: Krista Jensen and David Phipps (York); Back row l to r: Bojan Furst (MUN) and Michael Johnny (York)

Post Cards from Congress – Day 4

Traffic at the ResearchImpact/RéseauImpactRechereche (RIR) booth has been steady and we have engaged with researchers from universities across Canada who have expressed interest in knowledge mobilization (KMb) and the RIR network.  And while our pens (thanks, York Research), luggage tags (thanks, Memorial University’s yaffle project) and our candy have been popular swag, it has been our recipe book which has been our best seller!

Allow us to explain.  No, we’re not publishers, so we’re really not ‘selling’ anything.  And ‘recipe book’ is how we’re referring to a peer reviewed article which David Phipps has published in 2011, titled A Report Detailing the Development of a University-Based Knowledge Mobilization Unit that Enhances Research Outreach and Engagement (accurate, but you see how ‘recipe book’ rolls off the tongue a little easier!).  At our booth we have an assortment of materials for delegates to take to inform them of our network, our programs and services, and how their institution can get involved in RIR.

Of all these items, it is the ‘recipe book’ that has been the most popular.  So popular, in fact, that we have had to print off additional copies and we’re only half way through Congress!  We’re excited and proud that academics, as well as community-based researchers, are so interested in the details of how York has developed and delivered institutional KMb.  This represents a significant step in our engagement with researchers at Congress.  And we are hopeful this interest will result in future growth for RIR!