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?

A Knowledge Broker’s Perspective on Research / Recherche : le point de vue d’un courtier de connaissances

Michael Johnny, RIR-YorkU

This story was originally posted on the Mitacs website on Janaury 24, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Ce récit a été publié la première fois sur le site Mitacs, le 24 janvier 2014. Il est repris ici avec permission.

Michael Johnny

Michael Johnny

I have a unique and enjoyable role at York University as a knowledge broker.  My role is to connect York researchers with community, industry and government for collaborative research on complex social issues, which fits well with the type of work Mitacs does.  Knowledge mobilization is a key way to make the work done at universities relevant to greater society by helping shape policies and practices and by driving technological development through academic and industry collaborations.

There are three fundamental aspects of knowledge mobilization which I feel are important:

1. Co-produced knowledge is the most effective form of knowledge mobilization

Simply put, collaborative research projects provide the best environment for research utilization.  York’s David Phipps has introduced this previously and our work to support graduate student internships has reinforced this.  Bringing together researchers with decision makers at the start of the research cycle creates a clear and common research agenda, to maximize the benefits of outcomes.  There are two examples based on internships which we like to share with people that reinforce this point, one around youth homelessness and the other about green economic development.

2. Benefits of the research can take time

Since 2006, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has helped support almost 400 unique collaborative activities and projects.  Almost 50 of these have been internships.  This has not only helped students develop new skills and employment opportunities, it has also helped their non-academic partner organizations through research knowledge and access to university facilities. But while collaborative projects sometimes don’t provide impact immediately upon completion, many benefits can be seen longer term.  Impact can take time.

3. Relationships matter

The ability to facilitate a two-way exchange of knowledge, information and expertise relies on a strong relationship between researchers and decision makers.  Graduate student internships are a powerful mechanism to support knowledge mobilization.  Many of our success stories at York are predicated on successful internships.  If you want to embark on a successful internship, make the time to get to know your partner and understand them – their needs, motivations and assets.

Has your company benefitted from knowledge mobilization with a university?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Want to learn more about how Mitacs internships are helping to connect Canadian researchers with industry?  Contact a local Mitacs representative.

Sustainability and Institutionalization of Knowledge Brokers / Permanence et présence institutionnelle des courtiers de connaissances

Human Resources word cloudDavid Phipps (RIR-York) recently posted a knowledge mobilization journal club on “Sustainability and institutionalization of knowledge brokers”. The journal club post discusses two research articles. This blog reflects on the leadership of human resources and knowledge mobilization.

David Phipps (RIR-York) vient de publier un billet sur le thème de « la permanence et la présence institutionnelle des courtiers de connaissances », sur la page du cercle de lecture sur la mobilisation des connaissances. Il y passe en revue deux articles de fond. Le blogue lui-même est un lieu de réflexion sur l’influence des ressources humaines et de la mobilisation des connaissances.

The knowledge mobilization journal club made the following reflection:

What these two articles really demonstrate but do not dig into is the lack of leadership and management of knowledge brokers in these two settings. The brokers at U. Edinburgh are (I am guessing) hired by the researchers who hold the grant funds and (I am guessing) have little experience in knowledge mobilization and knowledge brokering. Effective leadership and management would address a number of the issues identified by the knowledge brokers. Effective leadership and management would:

  • work with HR to clarify roles and ensure that compensation is aligned
  • provide opportunities for training
  • support mentorship and peer networks
  • ensure that evaluation and assessment were aligned with clarity of roles and supported by training and mentoring
  • hire the right people for the right roles

I thought we should check into how we’re doing this at York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit:

  • work with HR to clarify roles and ensure that compensation is aligned
    • We recently (2013) reviewed and updated the job description for the Manager, Knowledge Mobilization (Michael Johnny) and in 2012 we recruited the Knowledge Mobilization Officer (Krista Jensen) into a new unionized position. These roles were rated and banded in accordance with university policies. They are centralized research support services in the Office of Research Services under the Vice-President Research & Innovation. It is important to keep job descriptions current to embrace scope creep and remove redundant tasks.
  • support mentorship and peer networks
    • We have tried to develop a Peer to Peer Network on campus but it has never taken off. It’s not that anyone thinks this is a bad idea but with everyone’s busy schedule it never seems to make it to the top of the priority list. The RIR brokers have an active peer network.
  • ensure that evaluation and assessment were aligned with clarity of roles and supported by training and mentoring
    • We can do better here. Michael is evaluated on outcomes and accomplishments but we have yet to create an environment where he has time, incentives and rewards for engaging in the literature and evidence on knowledge mobilization.
  • hire the right people for the right roles
    • I think we have- both Michael and Krista have a combination of academic and non-profit experience. We have recently hired Anneliese Poetz (KT Manager) and Elle Seymore (KT Coordinator) for NeuroDevNet again with combinations of academic and non-academic expertise. We also work closely with Jane Wedlock, Knowledge Mobilization Officer for United Way York Region who was hired in 2011 to work on joint projects between UWYR and York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. Jane brings deep experience in community engagement.

It is important to realize we have taken seven years to get here. In the early years Michael Johnny suffered from role ambiguity as we built the role together. Until his position was made permanent in 2009 he was in a limited term contract. We had few role models (thank you Harris Centre and Cupp) and no local expertise to build on. Training was on the job and professional development was non-existent. But seven years on we have a leadership team (Vice-President as Executive Lead, Executive Director and Knowledge Mobilization Manager) that is committed to providing a challenging environment where it is possible to achieve success in knowledge mobilization.

As I reflected in a related post for the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization, “Leadership in knowledge mobilization has less to do with the practice of knowledge mobilization and more with the ‘business’ of knowledge mobilization.” Managing human resources is at the centre of the work of any knowledge mobilization operation. Without happy and hard working knowledge brokers there is no ‘business’ of knowledge mobilization.

KMbuddies for Life / Des amis mobilisés pour la vie

Michael Johnny, RIR YorkU

Michael Johnny reflects on his seven year working relationship in knowledge mobilization with Joaquin Trapero from University of Victoria.

Michael Johnny témoigne de sept années de travail en mobilisation des connaissances en collaboration avec Joaquin Trapero de l’Université de Victoria.

I had to look back to see, but the first communication was an email on February 16, 2006.  It was an introductory email from Joaquin Trapero, the new Knowledge Transfer Specialist at the University of Victoria.  So it makes his career in KMb span over seven years.  And now because of the formal launch of the Research Partnership and Knowledge Mobilization (RPKM) office at the University of Victoria, Dr. Joaquin Trapero no longer has KMb within his portfolio of responsibility.  It has been a few years since he has worked as a KT Specialist, moving on to manage the Institutional Portfolio program.  Now this is his full-time responsibility.

Picture of prairie dogs at the University of Saskatchewan

I had wanted to write this blog for almost four days now, and even now while I write, I am staring at the screen looking for words to capture my feelings.  I remember very clearly the early days of this journey and our work together where we’d meet four times a year– twice here in Toronto and twice in Victoria.  Our Intellectual Property Mobilization grant supported this initial ‘experiment’ of institutional knowledge mobilization services.  Capably led by Dr. Richard Keeler (former AVP Research, University of Victoria) and Dr. David Phipps (Executive Director, Research Services and Knowledge Exchange, York University), Joaquin and I were exploring what it meant to be knowledge brokers and helping lead the development of a national network.

So many memories poured back over the past few days while reflecting back on seven years:  our first Congress at University of Saskatchewan back in 2007 (which was the source of infamous beer, pizza and KMb planning talks); one of Joaquin’s first trips to Toronto to visit with us (where we naively planned a day-long event which began with a breakfast at 7:30 am EST… that’s 4:30 PST… oops); a decision to leave the KTS portfolio to take on UVic’s Institutional Portfolio (but fortunately allowed him to retain working responsibilities in KMb); and the success of KMb within our institutions which has helped enable the growth of ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche.

Congress this year is going to be held in Victoria.  How fitting!  While Joaquin will not be involved in the RIR booth at the book fair, David Phipps and I are going to make sure we meet up for one last beer, pizza and KMb planning talks!  And with that to look forward to, I am happy to share how I am feeling now and that is grateful.  What I have learned from Joaquin over these seven years?  Sharing a commitment to develop strong KMb programs and support RIR, attention to detail and planning, shared values around processes for successful KMb, and having fun along the way!

Joaquin, my friend, I appreciate all you’ve done to make this work in KMb a success and a pleasure.   I wish you success and happiness!  Thanks for a great seven years!

Picture of Joaquin Trapero, David Phipps and Michael Johnny

Joaquin Trapero, David Phipps and Michael Johnny

David Phipps and York U’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit Named Canada’s Biggest Influencers

The following was originally posted in YFile, York Univesity’s Daily News, on February 6, 2013 and is reposted here with permission.

David Phipps

David Phipps

David Phipps, executive director, Research & Innovation Services, which includes York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit (KMb), has been named the most influential knowledge broker in Canada, according to a report by Knowledge Mobilization Works, a consulting and training company based in Ottawa. It is a repeat honour for Phipps, because in 2011, he was named the most influential knowledge mobilizer by Knowledge Mobilization Works.

When the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization 100, a survey run by Knowledge Mobilization Works, asked respondents to rank the biggest influences of their knowledge mobilization practice, Phipps topped the list.

Also mentioned among the top influencers in Canada were Michele Dupuis of the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and Wilfred Laurier University knowledge mobilizer Shawna Reibling.  The survey collected responses from Oct. 15 to Dec. 16, 2012.

“Engaging the community through knowledge mobilization initiatives is an important facet of University research,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “We are proud of York’s national and international reputation as a leader in knowledge mobilization and it continues to grow and thrive. This recognition for David and the Knowledge Mobilization team at York is well-deserved.”

York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Blog, Mobilize This! was named the most read KMb resource and the most consulted blog. Michael Johnny, manager of York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit also received a mention in the second most influential knowledge mobilizer category.

Michael Johnny

Michael Johnny

In collaboration with the University of Victoria, York University piloted institutional knowledge mobilization in 2005 under a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and SSHRC. York University now leads ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche, Canada’s knowledge mobilization network that also includes Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador, Université du Québec à Montréal, University of Guelph and University of Saskatchewan. ResearchImpact as a network received a mention in the second most influential knowledge mobilizer category.

York University works closely with United Way York Region to deliver knowledge mobilization services to the York Region community, municipal and regional agencies.

Knowledge mobilization is a suite of services that connect university research and expertise to government and community agencies to help these organizations make better informed decisions about public policy and social services. Knowledge mobilization is a process that enables social innovation.

Peter Levesque, president and CEO of Knowledge Mobilization Works, undertook the survey to obtain a snapshot of individuals who people see as influential in their knowledge mobilization practice in Canada.

Founded in January 2007, Knowledge Mobilization Works supports individuals and organizations to create incentives and infrastructure for knowledge mobilization.

To view the results of the survey, click here.

Comment je suis devenu agent de soutien à la mobilisation des connaissances ? / How did I become a knowledge mobilization officer?

Jérôme Elissalde, RIR – UQAM

Jérôme Elissalde est agent de soutien à la mobilisation des connaissances au Service de la recherche et de la création de l’Université du Québec à Montréal. Petit survol de son parcours de la France au Québec, de la physique-chimie au soutien à la mobilisation des connaissances, tout en passant par la communication…

Jerome Elissalde is a knowledge mobilization officer at the Université of Québec at Montréal’s Research Office. This is a brief overview of his journey from France to Quebec, from physics-chemistry to knowledge mobilization support at the University of Quebec at Montreal , all that with an interlude in communication studies.

Jérôme ElissaldeMon nom est Jérôme Elissalde. Enfant, je rêve de devenir vulgarisateur scientifique. On me conseille de commencer par comprendre la démarche scientifique afin d’être mieux outillé pour l’expliquer (conseil qui peut se discuter). J’entre donc à l’université en France (mon pays d’origine) et étudie la physique et la chimie. En parallèle, j’anime des activités de découvertes scientifiques et techniques dans différentes associations d’éducation populaire. Ces activités sont utilisées comme des prétextes pour développer les capacités d’argumentation et d’esprit critique des enfants.

En complément de ma formation en sciences de la matière, j’assiste en auditeur libre à des cours sur l’histoire et la sociologie des sciences. Cela accélère mon départ vers une formation en communication et information scientifique et technique que je finalise par l’obtention d’un master. J’étudie alors la circulation sociale des savoirs, notamment  dans le cadre des controverses scientifiques qui surgissent lors des débats sociétaux. Cette expérience me convainc que ma place est dans le soutien à l’hybridation et à la pollinisation des idées et des connaissances, plutôt que dans que dans la vulgarisation scientifique.

Qu'est-ce qui m'allume?Je viens ensuite compléter mes études en communication sociale et publique au Québec. Grâce à l’accueil de Lise Renaud, directrice du Groupe de Recherche Médias et Santé de l’Université du Québec à Montréal, je crée un poste d’agent de « valorisation et de transfert de connaissances ». En 2008, ce poste devient « agent de mobilisation des connaissances». C’est là que je développe, expérimente et documente différentes facettes de la « mobilisation des connaissances». Cette expérience me permet notamment de documenter avec des collègues notre conception de la mobilisation des connaissances dans un cadre plus large de circulation des connaissances.

Depuis 2010, au Service de la Recherche et de la Création de cette même université, j’œuvre à la mise en place de services et d’outils de soutien à la mobilisation des connaissances avec mon collègue Luc Dancause. Ce soutien mise sur des stratégies allant de l’individu, jusqu’à l’institution

Les outilsMes outils ? La cartographie de l’information, la veille stratégique, le bouton à quatre trous, la collaboration, la curiosité… Je mise sur différentes stratégies, principalement la valorisation de l’existant et la mise en réseaux. Finalement, bien souvent, les principaux défis que je rencontre sont des défis de communication : la bonne information, dans le bon format, à la bonne personne, au bon moment et dans un contexte organisationnel propice.

Pour poursuivre et échanger sur les sujets présents dans ce billet sur twitter : @jelissalde  Autrement, autour d’une bonne bière nous pourrions parler de Jazz, de documentaires, de photographie… et de tout autre sujets que vous pourrez me faire découvrir !

How I Became a Knowledge Mobilizer / Comment je suis devenu une mobilisatrice de connaissances

Shawna Reibling, RIR – Guelph

Shawna Reibling, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator at the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES) at the University of Guelph, describes her journey to becoming a knowledge mobilizer.

Shawna Reibling, Coordonnatrice de la mobilisation des connaissances à l’Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES) de l’Université de Guelph, décrit le cheminement qui l’a menée à devenir mobilisatrice de connaissances.

I discovered to the field of knowledge mobilization by way of biology. In my Grade 11 year of high school I was a naturalist assistant in Neys Provincial Park. In this position I discovered that sharing hands-on knowledge about lichen, garter snakes and lamprey, was something that park visitors could appreciate. The ability to share the information about the wonders of the park, to transfer knowledge, was my passion. Recently, when I was writing a clear language summary of Dr. Hanner’s work entitled “Genetic calibration of species diversity among North America’s freshwater fishes”, he mentioned lamprey and I was immediately engaged – there is still so much to learn about fresh water ecosystems. This is one of the drivers of a knowledge mobilizer – the desire to spread information and allow people to wonder with you.  Engaging knowledge translation and exchange may lead to co-creation of knowledge. Did some of those kids who held the garter snake go on to be biologists, working with park rangers?

First panel shows a person looking at a flower questioningly and reads "Step One: Wonder at Something...". Second panel shows many people looking at the same flower and reads "Step Two: Invite Others to Wonder with You..."

I rediscovered knowledge mobilization in graduate school. My work at the School of Communication  at Simon Fraser University focused on technology policy and analysis. I was assigned was to write a mock SSHRC grant to fund my thesis proposal and convince a Committee that my thesis was fundable. The classic “So what? For whom?” questions of knowledge mobilization were made clear to me in my first steps as a researcher. I believe that it is never too early to embed knowledge mobilization in education!

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Putting the ‘Strategy’ in Knowledge Mobilization Strategy / Mettre de la « stratégie » dans la stratégie de mobilisation des connaissances (MdC)

Michael Johnny, RIR – York

Knowledge Brokers in Canada have a growing number of training opportunities specific to supporting our work. Peter Levesque of KMb Works offers an excellent one day session on KMb Strategy.

De plus en plus de formations sont offertes aux courtiers de connaissances canadiens pour supporter leur travail. Peter Levesque de Knowledge Mobilization Works offre d’excellentes sessions d’un jour sur les stratégies de MdC.

It is quite possible Peter Levesque is Canada’s longest tenured Knowledge Mobilization professionals.  It stands to reason given this experience and his role as CEO of KMb Works that he would offer an excellent one day workshop, Building a Knowledge Mobilization Strategy.   Peter’s one day session is an engaging and interactive session, where he successfully draws on the experiences of participants to explore a clear and consistent understanding of the term Knowledge Mobilization, as well as an understanding of the strategic elements of this within the spectrum of vision, mission, goals and activity, outputs, outcomes and impact.

I have been fortunate to also attend the Scientist Knowledge Translation Training course offered by Dr. Melanie Barwick.  The strength of Melanie’s session is taking a wide array of information and positioning it within an operational template.  Peter’s session is very complimentary;  it does not offer the attendee a template from which to work, but steps back and provides detailed and significant context on the what and why of Knowledge Mobilization.

For me as a knowledge broker at York University, an important and emerging role in my work is supporting faculty research grant applications by aiding in the development of a dedicated Knowledge Mobilization strategy.  The template that I was able to adapt from Dr. Barwick’s session is now going to be enhanced by what I learned from Peter Levesque.  Positioning a KMb Strategy within the goals of a project will help allow for relevant activity and significant outcomes and ultimately, relevant impact.

I will continue to seek out relevant learning opportunities for myself in my role as a knowledge broker.  I know for sure that I need to take advantage of every opportunity to learn from Peter Levesque’s rich experience in Knowledge Mobilization.  And check out the materials from the 2012 KMb Forum, a two-day forum on Knowledge Mobilization for researchers, practitioners and professionals with interests in KMb recently held in Ottawa.

Innovation brokers / Courtiers en innovation

David Phipps, RIR-York

David Phipps (RIR-York) published another knowledge mobilization journal club article last week. The journal club discusses work on “innovation brokers”. Are you a knowledge broker or an innovation broker?

David Phipps (RIR-York) a publié un autre article dans le cadre du club de lecture sur la mobilisation des connaissances.  La discussion porte sur les « courtiers en innovation ». Êtes-vous un courtier de connaissances ou bien un courtier en innovation ?

We wrote a number of blogs on the K* conference a few weeks ago. At that conference I met Laurens Klerkx, a scholar from Wageningen University, The Netherlands who writes on innovation and innovation brokers in particular. I had just finished my presentation as part of the K* to civil society panel in which I showed our video of our collaboration with Nottawasaga Futures resulting in the Green Economy Centre. You can read about that collaboration and view the video here. In the video Valerie Ryan speaks about our role as helping connect them to York University research and expertise, to funding “right down to editing my proposals, we simply couldn’t have done this without them, we simply couldn’t”. Thanks Val!

In the Q&A after the panel presentations Laurens pointed out that we had done more than broker knowledge saying we had played the role of an innovation broker. Innovation broker was a new term for me. I asked for more information and Laurens sent me a couple of his papers that I discuss on the KMb Journal club.

Innovation broker? Is this truly a different term easily differentiated from the more narrowly construed knowledge broker or are we really using different words to describe the same function? If you are a knowledge broker placed within a discipline specific project or unit then you are likely brokering knowledge; however, that knowledge and that brokering function nonetheless sits within a broader system of knowledge creation to implementation.  If you are an institutional knowledge broker like those in the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities you are brokering relationships within a broader system. We all care about what happens to our “knowledge” post brokering and strive to evaluate the impact of our brokerage by tracking forward to implementation and impact. As such we are tracking forward through a broader innovation system.

So are we all innovation brokers? Is this a new term (to me, clearly not to the literature as Laurens has been writing about this since 2008) to describe our work or is it describing something that we are not doing? And if the latter should we broaden the scope of our work?

Interesting beer talk. While we should avoid jumping on the terminology band wagon we should think about our roles and consider how this new terminology can help us become better brokers of either knowledge and/or innovation.

The Importance of Knowledge Mobilization in Benefiting Our Region

The following was first published by United Way York Region on June 4, 2012 and is reposted here with permission.

As a concept, Knowledge Mobilization was introduced in Canada in 2001-2002 by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) and can be defined as putting available the knowledge gathered through research regarding social issues (poverty, housing, immigration, climate change, security, Aboriginal issues and social determinants of health) into active service to benefit communities.

As Universities are the main producers of new social science research, connecting academic knowledge to non-academic decision-makers about public policy can create significant change in our community and society in general. As such, United Way York Region (UWYR) is working proactively with York University to identify and address community priorities.

Since 2006, York University has employed a knowledge-mobilization unit to foster relationships between university research and non-academic partners. York’s Knowledge Mobilization unit currently houses three full-time knowledge brokers, one of whom works directly with us here at United Way York Region.

While we are continuing with our traditional role of supporting agencies to meet urgent needs, UWYR is also working hard to tackle the root causes of social issues. With the funding that was awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to York University and United Way early last summer, projects are underway that will draw on the university’s strong interdisciplinary research to respond to our community needs and systematic social challenges identified by United Way of York Region.

United Way York Region’s Strength Investments is an example of this innovation, providing seed funding to build civic muscle. Strength Investments bring community, faith, business and agencies together to work on simple, collaborative and unique solutions. The funding, which arose through research undertaken by three York University graduate students in the summer of 2010, represents a new way for us to support the rich, informal network of caring and ground-breaking solutions that already exists across the region.