upStream Open House – Getting Fresh in York Region / Soirée porte ouverte d’upStream : fraîcheur garantie pour la région de York

Michael Johnny, RIR-York

York Region Food Network is addressing the issue of food security through an interesting and innovative project. Through collaborative partnerships and a grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, upStream Aquaponics has been launched to pilot sustainable and healthy food development throughout the year.

Le réseau alimentaire de la région de York (York Region Food Network) aborde le problème de l’insécurité alimentaire par un moyen original et innovant. Grâce à des partenariats et des collaborations, et avec une bourse des Centres d’excellence de l’Ontario, upStream Aquaponics a entrepris de guider, au cours de l’année qui vient, le développement durable de l’offre d’aliments sains.

AquaponicsYork KMb had the pleasure of attending an Open House for a project led by the York Region Food Network (YRFN) which has realized development of an aquaponics lab – an urban agriculture innovation hub.  This facility is located in Newmarket, ON, steps away from the GO train station in Newmarket.   Approximately 30 people attended to learn more about the aquaponics lab and to tour the facilities.  YRFN Executive Director Joan Stonehocker addressed the crowd in attendance, identifying that this experiment is an important step for YRFN and the local community to address sustainable food development, healthy eating and food security for neighboring communities.

The KMb Unit at York University was approached by YRFN to partner in support of a research and development opportunity for their successful Ontario Centres of Excellence application, which provided direct funding support for the development of the aquaponics lab.  According to YRFN, the lab is producing 800 heads of lettuce each month and almost 150 tilapia.  Food is distributed through the Good Food Box program to underprivileged residents in the community, local restaurants as well as through an emerging retail operation.

With food insecurity identified by YRFN and United Way York Region as a community priority, KMb is a proud partner of this project and is seeking engagement from interested researchers on an ongoing basis.  Efficacy, economic, health and environmental themes are all prevalent in the development of an aquaponics lab.  Our office was also proud to support an event on Friday April 4, which YRFN hosted around Food Waste.  York graduate students and researchers from the University of Guelph participated in the presentations and workshops that were aimed to promote education, awareness and an action agenda around food security and food waste management in York Region.

KMb engages in a wide range of activities bridging and enabling research to help inform public policy and professional practice.  Based on the samples I was able to consume following the Open House, YRFN and their upStream project are well positioned to have a significant and positive impact on communities in York Region.  Add a nice balsamic vinaigrette and we’re taking KMb to the next level!

Aquaponic Lettuce

Researchers and Knowledge Mobilizers Both Know: Food is Important / Les chercheurs et les agents de mobilisation le savent : la bouffe, ça compte

Shawna Reibling, RIR – Laurier

Sometimes when mobilizing knowledge and brokering relationships, it is the environment and soft skills that make for a positive interaction. Knowledge mobilization and brokering can take place over the dinner table. 

Quand il s’agit de mobiliser [s1] les connaissances et de tisser des échanges, il arrive que ce soit l’ambiance et le savoir-être – les compétences relationnelles – qui transforment une rencontre en interaction décisive. La mobilisation et le courtage des connaissances se font aussi autour de la table.

Alison Blay-Palmer“Farmers’ markets sell good quality, fresh food. There is a shorter food chain and consumers know where it’s coming from,” says Alison Blay-Palmer, a local food researchers and co-Director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems.

Blay-Palmer is being recognized as one of three finalists for an award recognizing her partnerships with the community. She is working with local farmers, exploring how to improve opportunities for farmers to increase their capacity for making local food sustainable and viable. The award is being offered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The winner will be announced in October in Montreal.

“Food is a social vehicle and it makes connections with people,” Blay-Palmer has commented. This is true both in her research, but also for the work of knowledge mobilization. Having a welcoming space for people wanting to learn about your work includes: comfortable chairs, chairs that work for people with disabilities, food, drink and a good temperature. These are all parts of the “set up” of brokering a relationship between two people, or an information sharing seminar for 20 people.

Picture of vegetables, a farmers market and a goat

These soft-skills and environmental factors of good relationship building are critical to good knowledge mobilization, as well as good facilitation.

What other lessons can we learn from the dinner table that we can apply to knowledge mobilization work?

For more information about Alison’s work please visit: www.wlu.ca/research/food

Social Media as a Tool to Disseminate ASD Mental Health Research / Les médias sociaux comme outils pour diffuser la recherche en santé mentale sur les troubles du spectre de l’autisme

Jonathan Weiss, Faculty of Health and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research, York University
Michael Johnny, RIR York

A commitment to social media can help support important messages in research being shared to diverse audiences.

 L’emploi des médias sociaux peut favoriser la diffusion à des publics divers d’importants messages issus de la recherche.

Jonathan Weiss

Jonathan Weiss

Social media is not a new medium for disseminating academic research but it is one that is relatively new and not widely utilized by academic researchers. Dr. Jonathan Weiss of York University and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research has adopted social media as an important component of his collaboration, engagement and dissemination efforts. His rationale is embedded in the title of an early blog entry on his recently created ASD Mental Health blog, “Why Focus a Blog on Mental Health and Autism Spectrum Disorders? How Could We Not“? An understanding that research is only part of the continuum of desired changes to policy and practice around Autism, social media was determined to be an important tool to support engagement with project partners, research dissemination to diverse end users, and an opportunity to access additional information and contacts to continue to support the ongoing research agenda.

This is all aligned with a clear and comprehensive knowledge translation (KT) strategy for the project team. Simply put, the objectives of KT for this project are to enable research to inform decision making along the spectrum of Autism service. Informed by the leading work of Melanie Barwick who had led Scientist Knowledge Translation Training courses, an integrated KT strategy has been employed. This means ongoing engagement with stakeholders. Information will be shared in a timely manner and in relevant formats allowing for easy access to research to encourage specific recommendations to enable research to meet its objectives of helping inform policy and practice.

ASD Mental Health Chair logo

The Chair website and blog have been combined with the work of numerous project partners, to create a web of engagement that meets the needs of all involved. For ResearchImpact, this is an excellent example of how social media can be effectively used as part of a KT strategy. For the project team, it is an important tool to disseminate and access relevant information related to Autism and Mental Health research.

Visit the Chair in Autsim Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research website at asdmentalhealth.ca,  the ASD Mental Health blog at asdmentalhealth.blog.yorku.ca and the complete list of research summaries at asdmentalhealth.ca/research-summaries. And watch the ResearchImpact twitter feed @researchimpact for the rest of this week, where we will be tweeting about ASD Mental Health ResearchSnapshots.

Mobilizing Knowledge… with Comic Books? / La mobalisation des connaissances … à l’aide de bandes dessinées?

Dale Anderson, RIR- UVic

There’s lots of ways to mobilize knowledge—open access publishing, briefing notes for policy makers, face-to-face meetings, KMb Expos—all these sound familiar. But have you ever thought of using comic books? One faculty member at the University of Victoria has.

Il y a plusieurs manières de mobiliser les connaissances. Les publications en libre accès, les notes d’information pour les décideurs, les réunions en face-à-face et les Expos-MdC sont des exemples familiers. Mais avez-vous déjà pensé à utiliser des bandes dessinées pour y arriver? Un professeur de l’Université de Victoria, lui, a eu cette idée.

There’s lots of ways to mobilize knowledge—open access publishing, briefing notes for policy makers, face-to-face meetings, KMb Expos—all these sound familiar. But have you ever thought of using comic books? One faculty member at the University of Victoria has. Neuroscientist Dr. E. Paul Zehr drew on the comic book saga of Batman three years ago to demonstrate that extreme and prolonged physical training can produce superheroes of us all. Now with his latest book, Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine, Zehr explores whether modern-day technology is up to the challenge of inventing a real-life Iron Man.

“Science is inching closer to a point where portions of an Iron Man suit could in fact be made and used,” says Zehr. “But what does connecting the body to this kind of technology actually do to the person inside the suit? What will it mean to blur the line between human and machine?”

His critically acclaimed first book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, was released in 2008. Zehr’s new book is published by Johns Hopkins University Press and is available now.

Zehr, director of UVic’s Centre for Biomedical Research and a professor in the Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory at UVic’s School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education and in the Division of Medical Sciences, is a lead researcher at ICORD and a martial arts expert.

He attended the Comic Con International in San Diego in July 2011, and will be at the New York Comic-Con in mid-October. Comic-Con, a comic book and popular arts convention, frequently serves as the launching pad for upcoming movies and TV series. For more info, please visit: www.inventingironman.com.

Clear Language Research Summaries Go National! / Les résumés de recherches en langage clair à l’échelle nationale!

By Shawna Reibling (ResearchImpact, University of Guelph)

Clear Language Research Summaries are designed to remove jargon and create a description of a peer-reviewed  discovery that’s easy to understand.  Students and personnel from across the University of Guelph will be trained by York University in clear language writing techniques, beginning to write in September 2011.

Les résumés de recherche en langage clair ont pour objectif d’éviter le jargon scientifique et de fournir un résumé d’une recherche validée par les pairs qui sera facilement compris. Des étudiants ainsi que des membres du personnel de l’Université de Guelph recevront une formation offerte par l’Université de York sur les technique d’écriture en langage clair. L’écriture débutera en septembre 2011.

Two ResearchImpact member universities: University of Guelph and York University, are working together to create 144 clear language research summaries of peer-reviewed journal articles about research happening at the University of Guelph.

Working with the University of Guelph Atrium digital repository, and ResearchImpact local knowledge brokers, research summaries will then be made available throughout the ResearchImpact network (see figure below), for practitioners and members of the public to read. Farmers in British Columbia might be interested in research about the work of tree fruit expert Jayasankar Subramanian. Or the project “Nutraceutical Research on Local Berries in Central Labrador for the Development of New Activities in the Region”, based out of Memorial University,  might be looking for a partner at the University of Guelph Vineland Research Station. Profiling published research from across the university and making it accessible throughout a wide dissemination network, will allow ResearchImpact and the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship to engage further, with more clarity, into what Canadian communities are curious to learn more about.  Visit the website, Clear Language Research Summaries: Moving From Peer-Review to Public-View for more information.

The project was supported by the Agri-Food and Rural Link, a program of Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods and Rural Affairs.

A program of the OMAFRA-U of G Partnership.

Please contact Shawna Reibling, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator at the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship for more information.

Via ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche, clear language research summaries will be more widely accessible

York brokers knowledge for climate change/L’engagement des courtiers de connaissances de York dans la lutte aux changements climatiques

On March 1st, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration hosted the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. This was the biggest event held so far as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project. The event gave us a taste of just how valuable and urgent it is to seek greater research collaboration between researchers and policy makers to tackle climate change.

Le 1er mars dernier, l’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de York et le Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration ont organisé la journée des politiques et de la recherche sur les changements climatiques. Il s’agissait du plus important événement tenu à ce jour dans le cadre du projet Mobilisation des connaissances et changements climatiques. Cet événement nous a permis d’entrevoir la valeur et l’urgence d’une collaboration accrue entre chercheurs et décideurs publiques dans le but de contrer les changements climatiques.


March 1st was a big day for the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project.  York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit along with its partner, the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration (CCRAI), hosted the York University Climate Change Policy and Research Day.   The event was chaired by Karen Kraft Sloan, Special Advisor on the Environment to the Vice President Research and Innovation, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies and Canada’s former Ambassador on the Environment.

This event brought together 3 distinct groups (a complete list of panelists is included below):

  • policy staff from local and regional governments and community organizations
  • researchers from York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, as well as Science & Engineering
  • graduate students from across various academic disciplines

The event began with a morning open forum between policy staff and researchers. An audience of York graduate students and faculty as well as other invited policy staff observed the forum. The policy makers presented on climate change issues they face, shared adaptation strategies, and identified areas where they need expert opinions and more research. York’s professors responded with their ideas and presented their latest research on climate change impacts and adaptation. Continue reading

2010 by the Numbers

In a look back on 2010 from our ResearchImpact web perspective we see some good news but also recognize we have some room to grow.

Looking back on 2010 we see we had reason to celebrate.  By the numbers, 2010 was a good year for ResearchImpact’s web presence.   This is the third recent post that talks about numbers- on November 26, 2010, we presented a summary of our cumulative knowledge mobilization activity; and on December 23, 2010, we presented some 2010 numbers in our Merry Mobilizing card to all of our readers.  Looking back on 2010 from our web perspective we see some good news but also some room to grow.

Blogging: Mobilize This! received 15,872 views in 2009 and 35,848 in 2010 representing a 126% increase in views.  March to September was almost double the views of the rest of the year!  Thanks to all of you who are reading this right now. Feel free to leave a comment using the comment feature below.  This will let us know how we can better respond to your KMb needs.

ResearchImpact website: We remain constant in getting about 1 million hits per 8 months over the last 16 months.  We had a 24% increase in web hits over 2009 and a 53% increase in number of visitors (total month over month visitors in 2010 was 70,468).  At 55% our bounce rate isn’t great and people spend about 3 minutes on the site when they land.  It appears that our home page, RSS feed, ResearchSnapshots and KMb bookmarks are the most frequented pages.

ResearchImpact O3 community: Our O3 online collaboration platform wasn’t around much in 2009 for a comparison.  Looking at the last 6 months of 2010 vs. the first 6 months we see a 159% increase in visits (total visits in last half of 2010 were 2,539) with a bounce rate of only 30% (thanks for sticking around).  O3 is new to Ontario and it is new to us (thank you ORION for featuring us in your video and newsletter).   As we expand our collaborations we aim to continue to use O3 to support knowledge mobilization and co-creation of new knowledge between researchers and their research partners.

And finally, Twitter: We took a look at our twitter activity on March 30, 2010.  At that time we had 345 followers and were following 99.  As of January 4, 2011 we have 744 followers and are following 189.  Both numbers roughly doubled but we had slightly greater growth in followers.  According to Klout, a service that measures twitter presence and influence along three variables (true reach, amplification and network = Klout score), ResearchImpact had a Klout score of 52 out of a possible 100 on January 3, 2011. While we don’t know what that means (Oprah is about 80 for comparison), we are described as a “specialist”:

“You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.”

Specialist?  We’ll happily be known as a specialist.

Thanks to all who retweeted (50 unique retweeters retweeting 100 unique tweets for a total of 250 retweets) and for all who follow us.  Props and a big shout out to our top twitter followers below – @KMbeing standing out amongst them.

So, for 2011?  Stay the course.  Join us for a new feature, a tweet chat on Wednesday January 26, 2011 (“Tweet a Mobilizer”).  Work on the bounce rate for www.researchimpact.ca and also welcome more of our KMb colleagues from the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities as they post material on the website, this blog and develop their own twitter presence.  The first four years of ResearchImpact’s web presence has mostly been about York and York Region.  2011 will see our web presence become truly pan-Canadian.