Reflections From a Broker’s Spring Travels / Réflexion d’un courtier en tournée printanière

Michael Johnny, RIR-York

1 Broker.  3 Conferences.  5 Flights.  10 National Partners.  16 days.  62 Presentations attended.  140 conversations.  6334 Kilometers.  Being an RIR knowledge broker in the spring…priceless!

1 courtier. 3 conférences. 5 vols. 10 partenaires nationaux. 16 jours. 62 présentations écoutées. 140 conversations. 6334 kilomètres. Être un courtier de connaissance du RIR au printemps… ça n’a pas de prix!

Yes, it’s that time of year, travel season!  And the totals above only represent June 1-16 and do not represent RIR’s presence at CAURA/ACARU in Montreal in May.  During this 16-day window, I had the pleasure of attending in an RIR national network meeting, the annual Canadian KMb Forum, Congress, and the recent CU Expo.  I am sitting in Corner Brook, NL as I write this, the CU Expo only recently formally closed.  This year things feel different and I mean that in a very positive way.  Each of these events over the past 16 days has provided transformational learning opportunities for me.  This reflection piece has provide me pages and pages of notes to look over, business cards to read over and follow up with and chances for me to leverage new knowledge and information to help make me a better knowledge broker.  So… with all that, here are some thoughts:

  1. The value of a network – my bias with regard to RIR is strong; I believe in it and feel invested in it.  On June 1 and 2, members of RIR met for informal and formal meetings where we looked at the roles, responsibilities and tasks for our members, both at a Director and Broker (operational) level.   I will share a takeaway from a CU Expo session on June 14 about Innovation in Newfoundland, where one panelist shared this about collaboration, “You get out of it what you put into it”.  That makes me feel encouraged because all participants worked hard to come to some common understanding about what RIR can be, and have self-identified roles to help achieve value for us all.  These two days may help propel us on a good trajectory for the next two years!
  2. Vision – Peter Levesque is President of the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization and led the extremely successful 2nd Annual Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum in Mississauga, ON.  One of the services offered by his Institute is a KMb strategy building session.  One item he has shared in this session which really stood out for me is the continuum of KMb planning, from vision, mission, strategy, action, outputs, outcomes and impact (and there are likely others, but this is suffice for now).  I am drawn to Peter because he is a visionary and working in the same field he does is a fortunate circumstance for me.  However, let me fast forward to today, June 15, 2013, where I had the extreme pleasure of hearing Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Chancellor of University of Regina.  Dr. Timmons provided one of the most powerful and visionary talks on community-university engagement I have ever heard.  The reason for this was her messages of enhanced needs for service and for deep meaningful engagement between university and community.  I manage a service unit at York University and take that responsibility seriously, but Dr. Timmons’ messages provided for me passion and renewed commitment to work harder to achieve a statement His Excellency, Governor General David Johsnton made, “this community belongs to this university”.  Here, in my work, the takeaway is a clear vision that roots KMb with neighbouring communities enables success by following Peter’s spectrum along to where action can result in positive outcomes and significant impact.  Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way York Region, in his keynote talk at the KMb Forum, enlightened me on some of the impacts of the work of York’s KMb Unit, impacts I was unaware of until he shared them.  At the foundation of my work in knowledge mobilization is a vision, which for me, is rooted in service and meaningful engagement.
  3. Impact – RIR partner institution and CU Expo host, Memorial University (in fact, four of the five CU Expos have taken place at RIR member institutions) were able to showcase their excellent work in community-university engagement and KMb.  Rob Greenwood, Executive Director for the Office of Public Engagement for Memorial U, and Executive Director of the Harris Centre spoke about accountability as an important aspect of transformation in collaborative work.  Accountability has developed a negative connotation which is not always necessary.  David Phipps of York University has written that impact is felt at the level of the end user.  It is my feeling that in a collaborative model of engagement between universities and communities, there is shared accountability and impact helps to reinforce the desired outcomes, as well as the unanticipated or unexpected outcomes of a collaborative project.  This places importance on shared governance, a common vision and activities that are realistic and measurable, and lastly, as Rob stated with such passion, communicate, communicate, communicate!
MUN Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, NL

Grenfell Campus, MUN, Corner Brook, NL

These are all large and significant takeaways from a busy schedule.  And here are a couple more.

  • It is all about the relationships.  Technology and tools matter, but people want to meet face to face and we need to enable this.  I know this from my work of seven years as a broker, but this has been reinforced and explicitly stated at the RIR meeting; Congress in Victoria, BC; CU Expo in Corner Brook (three separate times in presentations).
  • Details matter – The CU Expo in Corner Brook was the most well organized conference I have ever attended.  Every detail for a delegate was addressed and questions were dealt with immediately, individually and to the satisfaction of the person asking (me!).  Armies march on their stomach and brokers plan, play, share, scheme and dream with theirs too (along with some pints)!
ResearchImpact booth at CU Expo 2013

ResearchImpact booth at CU Expo 2013

I do have specific ideas to consider (or, takeaways that can improve my practice, because I didn’t spend all my time thinking big!):

  • A regional network of knowledge brokers (many people assume these duties without the job title).  Can we connect and convene to learn, share and do our work better?
  • Explore a policy-centred delivery mechanism so policy issues from our partners can be better addressed with academic research support.  There are examples of good practice to consider.
  • Begin to read literature.  An even better idea when your Director recommends it!
  • Alternative forms of engagement… brainstorming needed.  FM radio, 100.1 CU Expo Radio was one of the most innovative resources I have witnessed to engage community around KMb and other processes of community-university engagement.
  • Work with partners to strengthen marketing and communications.  And the best thing about this is we’re a partnership… I don’t need to have all the answers!
David Phipps at the ResearchImpact booth at Congress in Victoria, BC

David Phipps at the ResearchImpact booth at Congress in Victoria, BC

I’m tired. I miss my family.  I miss my office.  But it is these opportunities; the laughter, the seafood, the screech-in, the business card exchange and the significant one-on-one time with partners who are now friends that make me appreciate the value, importance and responsibility of doing this work.  My support system has expanded greatly over the past 16 days.  But like His Excellency shared, “How do we exercise our responsibilities?”  Due to the lessons learned over 16 days, I am better equipped to answer that.

Time for more seafood and more reflection!

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Social Media for Research / Les médias sociaux pour la recherche

David Phipps, RIR-York
Can you use social media in your research? Yes! Can you build capacity among research administrators to help researchers use social media in you research? Yes, and Krista Jensen (@atomickitty) shows you how.
Pouvez-vous utiliser les médias sociaux dans vos recherches? Oui! Pouvez-vous développer les compétences des administrateurs de la recherche afin d’aider les chercheurs à employer les médias sociaux dans leurs recherches? Oui, et Krista Jensen (@atomickitty) vous montre comment cela peut être fait.

York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has been actively building capacity for social media as a tool for research dissemination and engagement. In 2012, we published a book chapter that presented some social media tools and how they can be used in research and knowledge mobilization. Last year we also provided a variety of social media workshops including on overview of social media, a 2.5 hour twitter for learning and research workshop, a wordpress workshop as well as a workshop on building a social media strategy.

Krista Jensen (@atomickitty)

Krista Jensen (@atomickitty)

This year we were invited by the organizers of the annual Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (CAURA) to host a workshop on social media. The audience was research administrators but the objective was supporting social media strategies for research projects (even though we frequently delved into social media as a tool to support the research services office). Increasingly granting agencies are demanding knowledge mobilization or knowledge translation strategies for grant applications. In February 2012, we gave a knowledge mobilization webinar for CAURA. Increasingly these knowledge mobilization strategies involve social media. Hence the CAURA workshop this year.
We had 13 people show up, which was ideal. There was some hands on group work that would not have been feasible with a larger group. The presentation is available below or here on the KMbYork Slide Share account.
Some of the issues raised by the group included:
  • Resourcing – who does this and how do you pay for it?> Make it someone’s job and ensure research grant budgets have line items for social media including for purchasing pro accounts (an eligible expense on many granting programs)
  • Risks – do you need policies to manage risk created by social media?> Social media is just another channel… have policies to manage risk and ensure that social media use is anticipated in those policies
  • Role of corporate communications?> A great ally so long as they serve for more than brand stewardship
  • Volume – how to manage the volume when you already can’t get through all your e mail?> See resourcing and make it someone’s job for the research office or the research program.
The audience was very engaged. Krista Jensen put the session together and presented 95% of it. The audience appreciated her experience and wisdom. Everyone came back after break (in fact, we picked up one person!). Email and blackberries were almost wholly absent from the session (always a good sign) and evaluations were more than positive. Respondents were asked 5 questions with a maximum score of 5. We received 10 evaluations for a total possible score of 250. Krista received a score of 243/250, a score of 97.2%. And when asked who was thinking differently after the session every hand went up. When asked who will be acting differently after the session about 80% of the hands stayed up.
Thanks Krista for the excellent workshop. And thanks to Gary Myers (@kmbeing) who came along as a social media and knowledge mobilization expert to lend his experience to the discussion.

Webinar- Why research administrators should care about knowledge mobilization and what you can do about it

David Phipps, RIR York, will be hosting a webinar on February 14 as part of CAURA’s webinar series. See below for more details:

CAURA Webinar Session 34 Presents:

Why research administrators should care about knowledge mobilization and what you can do about it

With
David J. Phipps, Ph.D., MBA
Director, Research Services & Knowledge Exchange, York University

Tuesday February 14
10am PT/ 11am MT/ noon CT/ 1pm ET/ 2pm AT/ 2.30pm NT

Every SSHRC Insight Grant now needs a knowledge mobilization strategy. CIHR Partnerships in Health Systems Improvement is all about knowledge translation: CIHR KT Supplements, SSHRC Public Outreach, SSHRC PG, PDG etc. Also funders like IDRC, CHSRF and many health charities are looking for some form of knowledge mobilization/ translation/ exchange (chose your term….they all mean the same thing).

What is this thing, knowledge mobilization? David Phipps will provide details about developing a Knowledge Mobilization Unit in the Office of Research Services. He will speak about the services this unit provides and the metrics that they track. This webinar is based on a paper recently published in Scholarly & Research Communications “A Report Detailing the Development of a University-Based Knowledge Mobilization Unit that Enhances Research Outreach and Engagement”. Besides, it’s on Valentine’s Day. And who doesn’t love their job enough to learn about Knowledge Mobilization?

Please see the Webinar Poster for further details and how to use the Elluminate Collaborate Webinar Software.

ResearchImpact Spring Adventures! / Les aventures estivales d’Impact Recherche !

By Michael Johnny (ResearchImpact, York)

May and June 2011 were very active for ResearchImpact.  CU Expo, CAURA and Congress provided great venues to showcase the diverse, excellent work that ResearchImpact universities are doing in KMb.  This summary is aimed to provide an overview and some reflections on this activity.

Mai et juin 2011 ont été très actifs pour le réseau Impact Recherche. CU Expo, l’ACARU et le congrès ont fourni de belles opportunités pour montrer la diversité et l’excellent travail que les Universités d’Impact Recherche réalisent en mobilisation des connaissances. Ce résumé a pour objectif de fournir un aperçu sur de ces activités ainsi que quelques réflexions.

The five week period from May 10 – June 15, 2011 may be the busiest and most significant stretch in the growth and development of the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) network since its inception in 2006. While it is a traditional season for conferences and exhibiting for RIR brokers, this year was unique for a few reasons. But let’s examine the entire five-week period to see what made this so special.

May 10-13, 2011, Waterloo, ON – CU Expo – The previous CU Expo at University of Victoria in 2009 hosted over 900 delegates, so expectations were high. This event hosted over 600 delegates, impressive in its own right, and RIR had brokers attend from five of our six member universities. With an exhibitor booth and a presentation to delegates about knowledge mobilization tools, it was a productive and enjoyable start to the conference season for us. In addition, we were able to make time to have an introductory meeting, as this was the first gathering of all brokers in the RIR network! We were also able to meet with brokers from University of Brighton and University of Cape Town. ResearchImpact’s David Phipps was a panelist on a session on Social Innovation which included SSHRC President Chad Gaffield and York VP Research and Innovation Stan Shapson and McConnell Foundation President Tim Brodhead.

May 15-19, 2011, Ottawa, ON – CAURA National – Two days later, RIR was back on the road, again exhibiting and presenting the tools that brokers are using across Canada to facilitate research and knowledge based collaborations for Canada’s university research administrators. The presentation was hosted on the final day at an optional session which delegates had to pay to attend and we were flattered to host research administrators from 13 different universities across Canada. The RIR booth was a social hub throughout the conference and numerous delegates visited to inquire about our work, or, to explore how their institution could get involved in this network, but more on that later! Continue reading

Shining a Knowledge Mobilization Lens on Future Trends in Research

On August 5, 2010 Martin Butler presented a webinar titled “Future Trends in Research” for the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (CAURA). Martin Butler is a principal in The Butlers & Associates which “is a partnership providing independent research and development services to individual researchers, universities and other educational institutions, agencies and industry. Since 1996, partners Jennifer and Martin Butler have collectively impacted over 2,000 researchers from Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the United States.”

Martin’s 90 minute talk was wide ranging and while it lacked data to back up his conclusions, it was no doubt informed by his many years experience working between researchers, institutions and funding agencies. His talk reflected on issues of accountability, impact, collaboration, the increasing professionalism of research administration and the institutional evolution away from supporting researchers to supporting research ecosystems. I have annotated his slides found here to illustrate where his predictions on the future of research intersect with ResearchImpact’s interest in building capacity for institutional knowledge mobilization support services.

He makes a number of points that are relevant to KMb. Summing up the many annotated points on his slides Martin predicts that in the future, researchers and research institutions will need to:
• Maximize public benefits and return on investments of research
• Support new models of social entrepreneurship and new institutional structures such as KMb Units
• Demonstrate Impact. Demonstrate Impact. Demonstrate Impact (as well as learn how to measure and reward it)

If Martin is correct, then KMb and KMb support services will be required to meet increasing expectations from funders and the public to demonstrate how their investments in research are making a difference.

We will increasingly be required to add the public view to peer review.

CAURA colleagues take note. The 1990s saw a wave of commercialization. After 2000 we saw enhanced emphasis on accountability, ethics and compliance. Perhaps moving forward we will see efforts like those of the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities spread throughout Canada’s research ecosystems.

CAURA was founded in 1971. The Canadian Association of University Research Administrators is a national association of individuals committed to advancing the profession; to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of research administration at post-secondary institutions, hospitals, and other research institutes; to maintaining a strong presence and coherent voice on key issues relevant to research and to fostering co-operation and links with other organizations active in the management and administration of research. CAURA webinars are part of an ongoing professional development series for the CAURA membership.

Reflections on our National KMb Network

I have been very fortunate to work in York’s KMb Unit since February 2006. While we had worked hard over the first four years to build a credible service unit at York, and support the infrastructure for a national knowledge mobilization network, it is the past two months that demonstrate to me that ResearchImpact (Réseau Impact Recherche en français) has flourished!

On April 26 and 27, York KMb hosted the six ResearchImpact partner universities and their respective community United Way’s leadership (along with United Way Canada) for discussions on good KMb practices, collaborative opportunities and national networking. In true KMb fashion, the relationship building is what reflected and represented the foundation of an extensive national KMb network.

Fast forward two weeks, and on May 10 at CAURA (Canadian Association of University Research Administrators) four of the six universities in the network presented a plenary session that demonstrated collaborative projects between our university researchers and local community, demonstrating the value of university-based knowledge mobilization. I was impressed with how our messages were consistent despite gaps in capacity and variations in service models.

Most recently at Congress 2010 at Concordia University I had the chance to experience, once again, the strength of this network. Meetings with UQAM, connecting with brokers from five of the six partner universities, and having 8 days to promote ResearchImpact and reflect on our emerging network all point to an active and dynamic national KMb network.

While we remain short of my vision for ResearchImpact, where every university in Canada is represented with an active KMb service unit, the growth of the past two months is encouraging! I think the next four years will be just an enjoyable!

From the York KMb office,
Michael

♫Reunited and it feels so good♫

Thank you Peaches and Herb for this sentiment but we don’t have to go back to 1978 to feel this way. For the third year in a row ResearchImpact was featured at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators held in lovely Calgary. ResearchImpact was reunited because Joaquin Trapero, former Knowledge Transfer Specialist at ResearchImpact-Victoria has re-assumed responsibility for the KMb portfolio. Thank you Laura Milne for 2 years of KMb service as KT Specialist until she left her job on May 1, 2010 and welcome back Joaquin (who never really left as he has been managing the UVic KMb courses even though he was managing UVic’s CFI and CRC portfolio).

Being reunited does feel so good.

The theme of this year’s CAURA was “Partnerships Work”. Many of the sessions featured discussions of partnerships between researchers and between researchers and their research collaborators from industry, community and government and it was generally accepted that supporting these relationships throughout their cycle (from identifying partners to disseminating research results) is an emerging role for research administrators – and it is emerging fast. The role of contracts managers and their fit between grants managers and technology transfer managers was discussed in the panel “Look before you leap – check in with your TTO before you sign on that dotted line”. The university-industry interface was explored from diverse perspectives of funders, researchers, institutions and companies in the session “Make your grant money go further – working with industry leveraged funding programs”. The session “The CAURA of Tomorrow” explored (among many other things) the emerging partnership roles for research administrators.

And the ResearchImpact universities were reunited after only 2 weeks since spending 2 days together (see here for our report on the ResearchImpact United Way meeting). Michael Johnny, Manager of Knowledge Mobilization (ResearchImpact York) hosted Dominique Robitaille (ResearchImpact – UQAM), Fiona Haynes (ResearchImpact – U. Saskatoon, also reuniting with ResearchImpact after leaving UofS Research Services for their College of Nursing) and Joaquin at the session “Support for faculty based knowledge mobilization”. Our RI colleagues at MUN were present in spirit and in video and our Guelph colleagues joined ResearchImpact too late to make the panel but we look forward to them joining us in the future.

Being reunited does feel so good.

Each of the RI presenters prepared a brief presentation on how KMb is being implemented in their institution but quickly moved to videos of faculty and community partners answering the following questions:

Researcher: Please briefly describe your community or partner engaged research program.

Partner: How might this research help your organization?

Partner: Please describe the role that knowledge mobilization (or knowledge transfer or translation) plays in your organization. How important is it to connect your organization to research?

Researcher: Similarly, how important is it for you to connect your research to end-users?

Partner: What support, if any, could universities play in facilitating the type of relationship building that you have experienced with your collaborator?

Researcher: If you could dream in knowledge mobilization technicolour, what kinds of support services for knowledge mobilization would you like to see from your institution?

You can watch the videos on the ResearchImpact YouTube channel (and when you do, don’t forget to comment on the videos using the comment feature on You Tube). Veuillez regarder les videos à la chaîne YouTube de Réseau Impact Recherche.

York: Project Teens Moms Speakers Corner
MUN: Harris Centre – David Yetman;   Harris Centre – Pam Ward
UofS : Earth Day Part One; Part Two; Part Three
UQAM: À la croisée des savoirs; La mobilisation des connaissances

This presentation complemented the ResearchImpact booth in the Exhibitors’ Fair where those interested in KMb as an emerging institutional capacity could explore KMb in more depth with Michael and Joaquin.

So what’s next? Look for ResearchImpact at Congress where the theme is “Connected Understanding – le savoir branché” a close cousin to “Partnerships Work”. In order for your research-based partnership to work you need to first connect your understanding. Remember that knowledge mobilization is your support for effective partnerships and the ResearchImpact knowledge brokers are your source for KMb expertise. Connect to the ResearchImpact knowledge brokers at by completing our on line opportunity form that tells us what you need. Complete the form here and we’ll be in touch – promise.