Knowledge Mobilization Down Under / La mobilisation des connaissances prend la route du Sud

David Phipps (RIR-York) recently took the message of ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) down to Australia. There is a growing interest in knowledge mobilization as a means to enhance the economic, social and economic impact of university research. Six days. Four presentations. One workshop. Fourteen meetings. About 180 people.

Tout récemment, David Phipps du RIR-York a porté le message du ResearchImpact – RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) jusqu’en Australie. La mobilisation des connaissances soulève de plus en plus d’intérêt en tant que moyen de décupler l’impact social et économique de la recherche universitaire. Six jours. Quatre présentations. Un atelier. Quatorze réunions. Presque 200 personnes.

David Phipps & Tamika Heiden

David Phipps & Tamika Heiden

Thanks to Tamika Heiden of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (TICHR in Perth, Australia) for securing funding from a variety of sources to bring the Canadian perspective in knowledge mobilization to our colleagues in Australia. Leaving Canada on November 5 and returning on November 18, I had the chance to meet with research administrators, senior research leaders and individual research teams. To a person there was interest in how universities could demonstrate various impacts arising from investments in university research. In general there was a lack of understanding how universities could support this impact.

TICHR has started on the right path. They have identified knowledge translation throughout their strategic plan 2013-2017.  In five years they will “Have developed the systems and processes to enable us to report on specific outcomes of our research during the previous five years, and to document how our work has contributed to improvements in health and health services”. This is underpinned by explicit knowledge “translation” goals throughout their strategic plan. Getting KMb/KT into your strategic plan is the first step. If it isn’t there then it is just marketing because the plan drives the investment of resources. Next TICHR needs to settle its organizational design and make those investments that will support the KT goals outlined in its strategic plan.



I met with the University of Western Australia industry liaison/technology transfer office and their research services group. It is clear that both the industry liaison office and the office of research services are measured by funding and investments brought into the university. In knowledge mobilization money is a metric we count but it shouldn’t be the goal of our activities. Money is a tool that enables us to accomplish goals such as maximizing the impacts of research but it is only a vehicle to support impact. It is not itself a measure of impact.

I presented to the Western Australia chapter of the Australian Research Management Society (ARMS). There were 21 people in this group and while a Toronto example of the impact of urban heat on vulnerable citizens didn’t resonate in a country that every year sees plus 45 degrees Celcius, nonetheless, they were interested in a broader conceptualization of research support services that complement the pre-award and industry liaison activities currently underway. Edith Cowan Unviersity reached out and asked for more information as they consider with how to support researchers and maximize the economic, social and environmental impacts of research.

Curtin University has a long tradition of engaging in research partnered with industry; however, coming from a tradition of extension work (a close cousin to knowledge mobilization practiced primarily in the agricultural and international development sectors) they have also had ad hoc examples of researchers working with communities and local governments to inform social services.



A national conference, Knowledge Commercialization Australasia, heard I was “in town” so I dropped by and participated in a panel on models of commercialization for the 21st Century. I learned of one Australian university that was supporting social enterprises mainly from student startups…one example being a student group that is selling sustainably made socks with a portion of each sock sold helping to feed or school children in developing countries.

Many Australian researchers are already doing knowledge mobilization. Some are working closely with non-academic partners throughout the research process. Some are seeking to connect the outputs of their research to decision makers. None of them had either the frameworks or the literature to describe their work. Much of my time with research projects was sharing ideas and literature to help them describe their work in grant applications…something York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit does and has helped to attract over $33M in research funding for researchers and partners over the last 7 years.

So lots of interest and good will in Australia. Good on ya, mate! But what seemed to be wholly missing from the Australian context was the understanding that there is an entire science backing the practice of KMb/KT. There appears to be a globally developed practice of technology transfer with some but little formal scholarship to support this practice. For KMb/KT it is the opposite. There is lots of scholarship but compared to ubiquitous institutional investments in university technology transfer there appears to be very little institutional KMb/KT practice that is informed by KMb/KT scholarship.

See Knowledge Hypocrites for more on this.

Australia has kangaroos, quokkas, koalas and amazing sunsets. It also has a great appetite for knowledge mobilization. And Canada is happy to help. Give us a call…anytime. We’re only 35 hours travel from Toronto to Perth!

For more on extension as one “flavour” of knowledge mobilization please see: Ward, D. & Stone, K. (1992) Serving the state: the Wisconsin Idea revisited. Educational Record, 73 (2), 12-16.

Engaged Social Science in New Zealand / Des sciences sociales engagées en Nouvelle-Zélande

David Phipps, RIR-York

David Phipps (RIR-York) is a little obsessed with international aspects of knowledge mobilization. He blogged about his trip to the UK. He blogged about international examples of knowledge mobilization arising from a tweet chat. Here he writes about engaging the social sciences in New Zealand, which was absent from earlier writing.

David Phipps (RIR-York) est un peu obsédé par la question de la mobilisation du savoir à l’international. Il a blogué sur son voyage au Royaume-Uni ; il a blogué sur des exemples internationaux de mobilisation des connaissances suite à un discussion sur Tweet. Le voici maintenant qui évoque l’engagement des sciences sociales en Nouvelle Zélande, qui était absente de ses écrits précédents.

Flag of New Zealand

I bumped into @eSocSci on twitter recently. Their twitter profile describes them as “The new social science website for Aotearoa New Zealand”. Their website describes them as deriving fromBRCSS (Building Research Capability for the Social Sciences: Hui Rangahau Tahi) network was a highly successful online research community, developed to support emerging social science researchers in New Zealand’s eight universities. BRCSS demonstrated the value of networks and collaborative social science across universities – eSocSci extends these benefits to a wider audience.” eSocSci is hosted at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

With ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche’s interest in connecting research (not just social science research but much of what we connect is social sciences) to partners to generate, identify and progress strategic research priorities with public benefit, eSocSci peaked my interest. Again, from their website, “eSocSci facilitates research for innovation in social and economic policy, social services delivery, the community sector and business. We assist participants to identify social research gaps and future priorities through online forums and collaboratories designed to discuss research agendas. The key goals of eSocSci are as follows:

  • connect social science research with collaborators and users in other sectors
  • broaden relationships between and beyond the universities
  • profile research expertise, new research activities and emergent findings”

eSocSci has a focus on research done ‘by Māori, for Māori’ – a key similarity with much work with Canadian First Nations communities . This is also similar to a recent article that featured some of our work, “Nothing about us without us”.

Their members include universities and wānanga (a publicly owned tertiary institution that provides education in a Māori cultural context); research agencies and networks; central, regional and local government; non-government organizations; community groups; research advisory bodies; and funders. So they have membership from academic and non-academic partners which is key to achieve their mandate of connecting to a wider audience.

“Engaged Social Science︱Hui Rangahau Tahi (eSocSci) emphasises our role as an online knowledge space for facilitating engagement and collaboration in social science”. This appears to be a key difference in their work as theirs is an online space whereas the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities use online spaces (such as O3 and Yaffle) as tools to support in person knowledge brokering and knowledge mobilization.

eSocSci logo

Some of their website is still under construction. But there are spaces for policy makers and community partners to request research be undertaken or seek for previously completed. They post events from their members and they have a chat forum so members can discuss different research and policy issues online. There are also spaces for profiles of research in disciplines such as communications, education, employment and diversity. This is similar to Memorial University’s Yaffle.

My only question to eSocSci is how they are engaging non-academic partners in their operations. All the staff and the steering committee members are university based. The majority of the partners appear to be university based except maybe Māori Association of Social Sciences.  If any members of eSocSci are reading this feel free to comment and let us know more about your group.

Knowledge mobilization is found around the world in developing countries and industrialized nations. There are growing numbers of university based services to create a more engaged academy. K* started a global conversation about knowledge intermediaries but few of the participants represented universities as institutions. Perhaps it’s time for universities to have a conversation about engaging scholarship to maximize the economic, social and environmental impacts of research.

There and Back Again… a Broker’s Journey to England / Un aller-retour… le voyage d’un courtier en angleterre

David Phipps, RIR-York

I’m not a Hobbit going to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim a hoard of gold from a grumpy dragon for a bunch of dwarves (I loved there and back again... a hobbit's tale by Bilbo BagginsTolkein as a kid and still do)… but I did go to England recently to speak about institutional knowledge mobilization.

Je ne suis pas un hobbit allant à la Montagne solitaire afin de réclamer un amas d’or à un dragon grincheux au nom d’une bande de nains (enfant, j’ai adoré Tolkein et je l’aime encore aujourd’hui)… mais je suis bien allé en Angleterre récemment afin de parler de la mobilisation des connaissances au niveau institutionnel.

There is a growing interest in institutional knowledge mobilization – not just researchers doing it as part of their scholarship but how institutions make it a priority and support it. The University of Sheffield Research Exchange for Social Sciences (RESS) calls it Co-Production. The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) calls it…not surprisingly… public engagement. I had the pleasure of speaking with both organizations during my visit July 8-14. While we implement differently because of the very different higher education funding mechanisms and the social services and community sectors are organized differently (there is no equivalent to our United Way) we share similar goals and drivers for our work: to maximize the impact of academic research on society. I also had the pleasure of meeting with Welcome Trust Engagement Fellow (now that’s a cool fellowship to have!) Erinma Ochu who tweets as Manchester Beacon (@mcrbeacon).

RESS logo

My slides as presented to Sheffield and NCCPE (mostly but not 100% the same) are posted on Slide Share, but more interesting than what I presented is what I learned:

The University of Manchester has an Associate Dean of Engagement in each Faculty. This represents a significant investment in academic leadership for engagement by the university. I don’t know of any university in Canada with this model but if it exists please comment below.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 is driving a lot of public engagement activity in the UK. The Higher Education Funding Council for England will be basing part of their institutional funding on the extra-academic impacts of research. Universities have created units of research impact to create the REF case studies. Institutions are required to write a one REF case study for every 10 faculty members from all disciplines. In addition to driving block grants this process is forcing institutions to think about the impacts of research beyond academic quality. This will also create a rich resource of 6000 or so REF case studies which are raw material for scholars of the impact of research such as Claire Donovan (@ClaireDonovan).  We don’t have a REF exercise in Canada – but don’t hold your breath…some form of assessment is sure to come our way on day.

Paul Manners, Director NCCPE, said of the visit, “What a treat it was to host the visit by David and Gary: at the NCCPE, we are always looking for new ideas and examples of practice toNCCPE logo  stimulate innovation and fresh thinking. The Canadian experience of Knowledge Mobilization provides a fascinating context in which to think about creative ways in which universities can both respond to and help to build capacity and innovation in wider society. There are some similarities with what’s going on in the UK – but fascinating differences too, for instance in the ways that graduates and interns are involved in Canada. Delegates at the workshop were really inspired by what they heard, and the session generated a lot of lively discussion and debate. The only down-side was that it was over so quickly – we are very keen to find ways to continue the conversation and to build more structured ways to share experience and expertise across national boundaries.”

It was also great catching up with @CuppBrighton colleague @Dave Wolff again. He and his community partner, Paul Bramwell, were also presenting at the Sheffield Co-Production seminar. And I traveled with Gary Myers (@KMbeing) who presented on social media as a tool for knowledge mobilization. He presented 92 slides in 14 minutes. Yes 92 slides in 14 minutes. My slide decks had 12-16 slides and I had 30-40 minutes. The contrast was wonderful for us as presenters and for the audience.

We went there and came back again, and like Bilbo in The Hobbit, we came back with more than we left with. Thanks to @KatePahl and Anne Pittard of RESS for all their efforts funding and organizing the visit.

International Knowledge Mobilization / Mobilisation des connaissances à l’international

David Phipps,  RIR-York

On May 23, 2013, Gary Myers (@KMbeing) posted a blog on the KMb tweet chat (#KMbChat) held that day. The tweet chat was on international knowledge mobilization. We named a number of examples of international knowledge mobilization that you will read below in this cross posting of Gary’s blog; however, we were short on US examples. I recently read a paper titled “Bridging town and gown through innovative university community partnerships. The paper can be found online here. It provides a number of US examples of knowledge mobilization.

Le 23 mai 2013, Gary Myers (@KMbeing) a rédigé un billet de blogue à propos du KMb tweet chat (#KMbChat) qui s’est tenu le jour même. Le tweet chat portait sur la mobilisation des connaissances à l’international. Nous avons évoqué plusieurs exemples de mobilisation des connaissances à l’international que vous pourrez lire ci-bas dans ce billet faisant écho à celui de Gary. Cependant, nous avions peu d’exemples américains. J’ai récemment lu un article intitulé « Bridging town and gown through innovative university community partnerships ». Cet article est accessible ici : . Il fournit un certain nombre d’exemples américains de mobilisation des connaissances.

This paper provides seven methods of achieving these partnerships including-1) service learning, (2) service provision, (3) faculty involvement, (4) student volunteerism, (5) community in the classroom, (6) applied research, and (7) major institutional change.

US Flag

Each of these are illustrated with examples of community university partnerships from US universities.

These examples include:

  • Northwestern University (or Northeastern university… both were used in the same example!)
  • West Philadelphia Campus of University of Pennsylvania
  • Advanced Policy Institute of the University of California – Los Angeles
  • College of William and Mary
  • Neighbourhood Technology Centre of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Central Florida.
  • Center for Urban Progress at Howard University and the Howard University Community Association

Anne Bergen (RIR-Guelph) also provided some additional references including US examples of knowledge mobilization including:

Peter Lemish at U. Southern Illinois is also coordinating the Mid-Western Knowledge Mobilization Network, a group of 6 universities connecting around knowledge mobilization.

So a heartfelt KMb apology to our US knowledge mobilizers for not representing you well on the tweet chat. This should make up for that but if you have more examples to share feel free to add them in the comment feature of this blog. If you wish to join the KMb Tweet Chat it happens noon Eastern Time on the last Thursday of every month. Join in using and #KMbChat. Next tweet chat is Thursday June 27 and will be hosted by @abbaspeaks.

Gary Myers’ original blog is re-posted below and can be found with links to all these international knowledge mobilization organizations here.


Another successful #KMbChat on Twitter this month!  Each second-last Thursday of the month, knowledge mobilizers, knowledge brokers, knowledge workers and anyone else interested are invited to tweet together (12pm EST) to discuss a variety of topics about knowledge mobilization (KMb). I have had the privilege of moderating two of these KMb Tweet Chats and have never been disappointed with the response, the knowledge exchanged and the great ideas generated.

The topic for this month’s KMbChat (known as #KMbChat on Twitter) was about International Knowledge Mobilizationand focused on best practices of KMb from around the world.  Starting the conversation I asked, “What are your top examples of KMb from the following global regions? United States; Europe; Africa; Australia; South America; Asia/Southeast Asia”

And why?

Although most of the participants were from Canada and the United States, our tweeting group of KMbers appeared to be well informed about some of the outstanding knowledge mobilization efforts taking place in other countries:


We were fortunate to have @slagosky joining us from Spain who started us off by mentioning that Fundación para la eSalud – FeSalud or The Foundation for E-Health (@FeSalud on Twitter) is a non-profit organization that engages in technological methods of KMb with private and public organizations, mostly related to e-health and developing technology.

Soon the KMbChat generated some great examples of effective KMb work being done in a variety of places in the world:

The United States

Research into Action is an example of a Knowledge Translation program from the United States hosted in the School of Public Health at the University Texas (@KTExchange on Twitter)

Community-Campus Partnerships for Health is a US based organization (which also has a presence in Canada) and is an important player in Community Based Research (@ccph2010 on Twitter)

The United Kingdom

The important KMb work of Sarah Morton and colleagues from the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships  based at the University of Edinburgh

The important work of Angie Hart and colleagues from the Community University Partnership Programme at the University of Brighton

The Beacons for Public Engagement are university-based collaborative centres set up in 2008 to support, recognize, reward and build capacity for public engagement

Another great UK resource for KMb is the London School of Economics Impact of Social Sciences blog

European Union

The Science Shop Model – a European Union initiative – is part of The Living Knowledge Network


The EU Science Shop Model is also practiced by the University of Guelph at the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship


Telethon Institute for Child Health Researchwas among the first to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to major health issues: clinical research, laboratory sciences and epidemiologists all under the one roof, to tackle complex diseases and issues in a number of ways

Social Innovation Exchange Australia is a non-profit company formed to find better ways of tackling social problems, and responding to growing community needs and opportunities

South Pacific

Pacific Institute of Public Policy located in Vanuatu is a leading independent think tank serving the Pacific islands community. For info on a KMb panel with @pacificpolicy @CIPPEC and @MwananchiGhana see this MobilizeThis! blog


The International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilitieshas a global focus and is the first and only world-wide group dedicated to the scientific study of intellectual disability while also keeping knowledge mobilization front and centre

South America

Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC) is a non-profit organization that seeks to create a more efficient, just and democratic State that improves the quality of life


Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA)is a network of 24 universities that focuses on evidence-based policy making that aims to improve the accessibility, uptake and utilization of locally contextualized development research evidence on climate change and environment, health, information, education, governance, food security, livelihoods for children, women and men in Africa, to inform Sub-Saharan and global development policy and practice

Evaluation of a knowledge transfer strategy from a user fee exemption program for vulnerable populations in Burkina Faso is a research paper (although from researchers at the Université de Montréal in Canada) that analyzes one example of a knowledge transfer strategy aimed at improving the use of research results that could help reduce the vulnerability of certain populations in Africa

One of our KMbChat participants @abbaspeaks pointed out that language is often a barrier to effective knowledge exchange/mobilization, which sparked some great conversation about overcoming KMb language barriers as a challenge to connect us internationally.  This included using technology such as diagrams and images along with internet translation programs that can assist us with international knowledge mobilization.  There was also great discussion about the possibility of creating an undergraduate or graduate course about International Knowledge Mobilization.

All in all it was another informative hour of bringing people together to tweet about KMb! You can link here for further analytics about the KMbChat.

Do you know of any knowledge mobilization projects from across the globe? Please let us know.

Hope to tweet up with you as we invite you to join us for our next #KMbChat on Twitter Thursday, June 27th, at 12 noon EST moderated by @abbaspeaks.

Peer-to-Peer Networking: Still Trying to Get it Right / Red de pares de la Universidad de York : Buscando un mejor funcionamiento

David Phipps, RIR-York

David Phipps (RIR-York) was invited by colleagues at CIPPEC (Centro de Implementación de Políticas Públicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento) to write on some aspect of his practice that was not successful. The following was first posted in Spanish by CIPPEC on June 25, 2013 and is re-posted here in Spanish and English (following).


La Universidad de York (Toronto, Canadá) cuenta con una Unidad de Movilización de Conocimiento (Knowledge Mobilization Unit).Nuestro objetivo es facilitar colaboraciones entre investigadores académicos o estudiantes universitarios y personas del sector público y del sectorsin fines de lucro para que la investigación realizada informe decisiones sobre políticas públicas y servicios sociales. La movilización de conocimiento es un proceso que permite la innovación social y provee investigación útil a la sociedad.

Una de nuestras principales actividades de desarrollo de capacidades es la red de pares “KMb Peer to Peer” (P2P). La red reúne a estudiantes, investigadores y socios de la comunidad y los involucra en un activo intercambio bidireccional de información y experiencias entre creadores y usuarios de conocimiento. Desde su primera reunión en 2008, la red incluyó investigadores con intereses diversos (desde la falta de vivienda hasta el bullying entre los jóvenes). También ha involucrado a numerosos estudiantes de posgrado que, mediante donaciones hechas posibles por la Unidad de Movilización de Conocimiento, ahora trabajan con agencias de la comunidad en toda el área metropolitana de Toronto. En resumen, el objetivo de la red “P2P KMb” es forjar relaciones que permitan maximizar los beneficios de la investigación canadiense.

A pesar del gran esfuerzo que le hemos dedicado, la red ha tenido un éxito limitado. Diversos  coordinadores de investigación de la Universidad de York y empleados de la comunidad universitaria nos han dicho que la falta de tiempo, y no la falta de interés, es la barrera principal para el trabajo en red. Queríamos desarrollar una reden la universidad porque varios proyectos de investigación estaban colaborando con asociados, y el equipo de investigación estaba trabajando como movilizadores de conocimiento (knowledge brokers). El equipo no solo les proveía a los asociados conocimiento de investigación, sino que también sostenía esas asociaciones críticas para una colaboración exitosa. La red sería coordinada por la Unidad de Movilización de Conocimiento, aprovechando a su vez la experiencia de los miembros de la red.

¿Por qué la red “P2P Kmb” no funcionó? Además de la falta de tiempo, hay que considerar otros factores:

  • Liderazgo. No fue la falta de liderazgo: la Unidad de Movilización de Conocimiento de York es vista como líder en la movilización de conocimientos en la universidad y a nivel nacional. Incluso le pedimos a uno de los compañeros/colegas que lleve a cabo una sesión con la esperanza de que atraiga a más miembros – pero no hubo suerte.
  • Calidad. No fue la falta de material de calidad: York tiene una variedad de herramientas de movilización de conocimientos, documentos revisados por expertos que describen la práctica de movilización de conocimiento, y un sitio web llamado Knowledge Mobilization Journal Club.
  • Demanda. No fue la falta de demanda: las personas y grupos de investigación con los que hablamos quisieron asistir, pero terminaron sin presentarse, incluso aquellos que habían confirmado su asistencia.
  • Infraestructura. No fue la falta de infraestructura de la organización: la Unidad de Movilización de Conocimiento estaba lista para llevar a cabo la planificación y la organizaciónde los eventos.

Como hemos mencionado, la causa principal fue la falta de tiempo, pero es probable que otros factores hayan influenciado también:

  • Identidad. Muchos no se ven a sí mismos como movilizadores de conocimiento a pesar de que esto es parte de su trabajo. Si no existe un fuerte alineamiento entre su identidad y los beneficios de la red, los miembros de la red no priorizarán las actividades.
  • Incentivos y premios. Ninguno de los miembros del equipo de investigación que trabajan con los socios son evaluados en su desarrollo personal y profesional. Si no se los evalúa ni se los recompensa ​​por su trabajo, ellos no le darán al proyecto la prioridad que este requiere.

¿Qué estamos haciendo ahora? Hemos comenzado sesiones de aprendizaje[1] formales en la universidad. Estas sesiones de aprendizaje están abiertas a cualquier persona involucrada en el proceso de investigación, independientemente de su papel. Creemos que estas sesiones, al ser más estructuradas, son más exitosas que la intencionalmente desestructurada red P2P. Sin embargo, estas sesiones no conforman una red de pares, sino que posicionan como “experta” a la Unidad de Movilización de Conocimiento. En ello, se pierde la oportunidad de aprender de las experiencias de los demás. Pero las personas que sí asisten con regularidad terminan conociéndose entre sí. A la larga, es posible que las interacciones que tienen lugar en estos eventos creen el clima para la creación de una nueva red. Si bien esto puede tomar más tiempo que la formación de una comunidad planificada, es probable que una comunidad “espontánea” sea más duradera debido al interés original de sus  miembros.

Por último, me gustaría compartir algunas recomendaciones para aquellos que buscan facilitar la creación de redes entre pares (recuerde que todas estas son conjeturas ya que todavía no hemos tenido éxito)

1. Genere la oportunidad, pero no maneje la agenda.

2. Busque personas locales que han tenido éxito y trabaje en un segundo plano.

3. Sea paciente. Tiene un montón de otras cosas que hacer mientras siga empujando la idea adelante.

Para obtener más información sobre la Unidad de Movilización de Conocimiento de York consulte o contacte a David Phipps (

Background: York University (Toronto, Canada) runs an institutional Knowledge Mobilization Unit. Our goal is to broker collaborations between university researchers or students and partners from the public and non-profit sectors so that research can inform decisions about public policy and social services. Knowledge mobilization is a process that enables social innovation. Knowledge mobilization helps make research useful to society.

We have previously described how we help make research useful to society [Phipps, David. (2011). A Report Detailing the Development of a University-Based Knowledge Mobilization Unit that Enhances Research Outreach and Engagement. Scholarly and Research Communication, 2(2): 020502, 13 pp.]

Towards the end of this paper we talk about what hasn’t worked for us. We say, “Not everything has worked. Peer-2-Peer KMb networking has had limited success, despite much effort. We have been told by York University’s diverse research coordinators and research employees who work in some form of community- university setting that lack of time and not lack of interest is the principal barrier to Peer-2-Peer KMb networking.”  We wanted to develop a Peer-2-Peer network on campus because there were an increasing number of research projects that were collaborating with partners and for which the research staff were working as knowledge brokers. They were not only working to get research knowledge out to partners but they were also supporting those partnerships that were critical to the collaborative success of the project. The Peer-2-Peer network was to be coordinated by the Knowledge Mobilization Unit but draw upon the expertise of the network members.

So why didn’t it work? We said in the paper that it was lack of time not interest and I believe that. But there are other factors to consider:

  • Leadership: It was not a lack of leadership – York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit is seen to be a leader in knowledge mobilization practice on campus and nationally. We even asked one of the peers to lead a session in the hopes that a peer led session might attract more members – but no luck
  • Quality: It was not a lack of quality material – York has a variety of knowledge mobilization tools, peer reviewed papers describing knowledge mobilization practice as well as an online Knowledge Mobilization Journal Club
  • Demand: It was not a lack of demand – everyone and every research group we talked to wanted to attend but they never showed up even when they had confirmed their attendance
  • Infrastructure: It was not lack of organizational infrastructure – the Knowledge Mobilization Unit was ready to undertake the planning and hosting of the events.

It is a lack of time as we mentioned, but likely is also more than that:

  • Identity: Many don’t see themselves as knowledge brokers even though is part of their job. Without a strong alignment between their identify and the network benefits the network members will not prioritize the activities
  • Incentive and rewards: None of the research employees working with partners are measured on their personal and professional development. If they are not measured on it nor rewarded for it then they will not making it a priority

What are we doing now? We have started formal learning sessions on campus. These learning sessions are open to anyone regardless of their role in the research process. We find that these more structured learning sessions are more successful than the intentionally unstructured Peer-2-Peer network. They don’t create a peer network and they position the Knowledge Mobilization Unit as the “expert” so they miss the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others. However, regularly returning attendees do get to know one another at these learning events. Perhaps the group will be encouraged to self organize into a Peer-2-Peer network. An organically formed community may take longer to form than a planned, top down community, but it is also more likely to be sustained by the members.

Recommendations for those seeking to facilitate peer networking (and remember these are all conjecture as we have yet to be successful at this):

  1. Create the opportunity but don’t drive the agenda.
  2. Seek local champions and work in the background.
  3. Be patient. You’ve got lots of other stuff to do while you keep nudging the idea along.

For more information on York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit please see or contact David Phipps.

York University’s 2012 Year in Review / Revue de l’année 2012 de l’université york

David Phipps, RIR-York

Not quite an annual report but we have crunched the numbers for York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit’s activities for 2012. As you can see, we were busy at home and on the road.

Sans être exactement un rapport annuel, nous avons compilé les chiffres relatifs aux activités de l’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de York pour 2012. Comme vous pouvez le constater, nous avons été bien occupés à la maison comme sur la route.

2012 image

This table illustrates the traditional metrics of our activities with calendar 2012 compared to total cumulative numbers since we began operating in February 2012. But numbers tell only part of the story. The rest of our activities are highlighted below.



# Faculty Involved



# Graduate Students Involved



# Information sessions for faculty and students



# Information sessions for community



# requests for brokering



# agencies involved in KMb partnerships



Community Partner funding raised



York Research Contract funding raised



York KMb grant funding raised



# Research Summaries



Social media: this year we surpassed 100,000 views on our blog, Mobilize This!, 5500 views of our ResearchImpact YouTube channel and 3000 twitter followers.  We’re not Lady Gaga or Oprah or Justin Beiber but we’re rocking the social world of knowledge mobilization!

Capacity building sessions: This year saw a greater variety of capacity building sessions on and off campus offering workshops in social media, knowledge mobilization planning and internships. Some of these are delivered with faculty and community co-presenters.

Funding: In addition to the ongoing support and leadership of the Vice-President Research & innovation, York’s we received a $141,000 SSHRC Public Outreach Grant partnered with the CDN Homelessness Research Network and United Way York Region.

International Reach: This year saw us engaging with agencies from around the world. We hosted visiting scholars from the University of Sheffield, Scottish Agricultural College and Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (Australia). We also collaborated with academics, thinks tanks and government agencies from Sweden, UK, Australia, US, Ghana, Vanuatu, Argentina, and the Development Research Uptake for Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) network, a network of 24 African universities seeking to build capacity to make development research accessible for the benefit of their local communities – knowledge mobilization by a different name! This international reach helps to position York University, the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche network and Canada as global leaders in knowledge mobilization.

Honours and Awards: This year we were privileged to be awarded a global best practice award by the EU-based Knowledge Economy Network. David Phipps was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his national leadership in knowledge mobilization and was again named as Canada’s most influential knowledge mobilizer in the Canadian KMb 100. In addition, the Canadian KMb 100 identified Mobilize This! and the ResearchImpact website as the most frequently read knowledge mobilization blog and website respectively.

Presentations:  York, on behalf of the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche network were busy during conference season. We presented at the following conferences: K* Conference, Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum; Congress 2012; CAURA 2012; Innovation Partnership 2012; OCE Discovery 2012; Partners in Prevention 2012; Occupy Impact. We also made presentations at U Manitoba; Dalhousie; U. Toronto; U Saskatchewan. We also launched the call for new RIR members, applications due January 25.

Publishing: This year we continued our peer reviewed publications but also were published in some highly read international sources including the Guardian Higher Education Network and the London School of Economics Impact of Social Sciences blog. Our peer reviewed publications included an article on ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries published in Scholarly and Research Communication, a book chapter on social media and knowledge mobilization and a report on knowledge mobilization and social innovation.

Impact: We helped support the launch of a new choreography, Buggzzz, in which the moves and costumes of York Faculty of Fine Arts professors were informed by the research of entomologists from York’s Biology Department. The Biology professors were present at the premier and co-facilitated a round table discussion with the Fine Arts professors.

And this year we uncovered an amazing impact story of the collaboration between knowledge mobilization intern, Naomi Nichols, and the Youth Emergency Shelter (YES) Peterborough. Their collaboration produced a novel life skills mentoring program and turned YES into a social enterprise generating revenue from operations and securing new funding streams. It also helped Naomi to win the PhD thesis prize from the Faculty of Education as well as result in numerous publications and a book in progress. Look for more on this amazing story in 2013.

2012 has been another great year for knowledge mobilization at York and in Canada. And since the world didn’t end on December 21, 2012 it looks like we’ll have the chance to do even better in 2013!

The Virtual Knowledge Broker / Le courtier de connaissances virtuel

David Phipps, RIR-York

On Tuesday September 25 , I cleared my morning so that I could be the only Canadian participant in a workshop on Policy Influence and Monitoring. The workshop was in Cornwall in the UK. I was in Toronto in Canada. WebEx and Skype connected us.

Le mardi 25 septembre, j’ai libéré ma matinée afin de pouvoir être le seul participant canadien à un atelier sur l’influence des politiques et le suivi. L’atelier avait lieu à Cornwall au Royaume-Uni. J’étais à Toronto, au Canada. WebEx et Skype nous ont mis en contact.

Knowledge intermediary work is a global phenomenon. Look at the K* conference in April 2012 that was attended by participants from 5 continents. There are well established practices to enhance the impact of research on policy and practice in developing countries seeded by international organizations like the International Development Research Centre (Canada) and the RAPID program of the Oversees Development Initiative in the UK plus many more. These organizations work with local Southern partners to enhance the impact of research on the lives of citizens in the Global South.

Figure 1

I was invited by the Global Development Network (GD Net) to take part in a workshop on Policy Influence and Monitoring sponsored by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) who were working with a consortium lead by ODI and involving CommsConsult in UK and Zimbabwe, the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in Sri Lanka and the Centro de Implementación de Políticas Públicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (CIPPEC) in Argentina. They came together to explore two questions:

  1. What is policy influence?
  2. How do we measure it?

There were about 20 participants in Cornwall plus Vanesa Weyrauch joining from Argentina, Peter da Costa joining from Kenya, Simon Batchelor based in the UK, also joining remotely and me… from Canada.

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