Maximizing the Benefits of Research / Maximiser les bénéfices de la recherche

David Phipps, RIR-York

While busy brokering and building capacity for knowledge mobilization York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has also been publishing peer reviewed articles on their practice. These 10 publications (and more are on their way) are posted in the Knowledge Mobilization community of York’s institutional repository.  This new monthly post will feature a different article and the accompanying ResearchSnapshot clear language research summary.

Tout en travaillant au courtage des connaissances et au renforcement des capacités de mobilisation, le service de MdC de York a publié, dans des revues avec comité de lecture, des articles portant sur ses pratiques. Ces dix publications (d’autres suivront bientôt) sont accessibles à partir de la page thématique de la MdC, dans les archives informatiques de York. Cette nouvelle parution mensuelle sera composée d’un article accompagné de sa capsule “FlashRecherche” – un résumé vulgarisé des travaux présentés.

ResearchSnapshot logo

 

Maximizing the benefits of research 

What you need to know. When research is easier to access, it supports closer collaboration between the different groups that are affected by it. Universities, communities, government agencies and businesses can improve their collaboration with other sectors to apply research findings to real world problems and maximize the impacts of research.

What is the research about?  Knowledge mobilization (KMb) and social innovation gets university research into the hands of policy makers, businesses, and community groups. These stakeholders increase the social, economic and environmental impacts of research by using it to improve the wellbeing of people and our planet. Thus, research must speak to different industries and communities to see its effect on the social economy. A stronger social economy can emerge if we work together, finish projects, join knowledge, and set goals. This study explains the relationship between people doing research, people who need that research, and its relevance to society. KMb and social innovation finds ways to collaborate and communicate it to make the world a better place.

What did the researchers do? The authors studied literature and practices in universities, community groups, and the government. They wanted to see how effectively research was being used after it was completed. They reviewed social innovation trends and suggested ways to make research easier to access and understand for these stakeholders.

What did the researchers find? A brief description of research findings allows interested stakeholders to recognize and access the full report quickly. Social Innovation can thrive when we share our research findings and open up communication between different sectors. Knowledge brokers play an important role in KMb. They help stakeholders in different sectors connect with research to improve its impact. The authors also suggested ways to improve communication and collaboration among government agencies, universities, and community groups. These included:

  • Improve KMb strategies to strengthen the impact of research and social innovation;
  • Develop sustained funding programs to help researchers and their community partners collaborate more effectively;
  • Open and increase communication among government, community groups, businesses and researchers;
  • Train and create a community of KMb and social innovation leaders and practitioners and stay connected.

How can you use this research? Businesses may use this research to improve innovation and social enterprise through access to research. Policy makers may consider developing a strategy to improve relations with universities through KMb. Academic researchers may also use this work to leverage investment in their research and maximize social innovation through their findings. Community groups can access research easily and use it to improve current and future programs and services. Community-based research also becomes more accessible to different universities when partnered with universities through KMb.

About the Researchers:  David Phipps is Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services at York University. Naomi Nichols is a Research Associate for York University and the Canadian Homelessness Research Network. Johanne Provençal is the Acting Director, Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Vice President Research Innovation at the University of Toronto. Allyson Hewitt is the Director of Social Entrepreneurship and Advisor of Social Innovation for SIG@MaRS Discovery District located in Toronto, Ontario.

Reference: Nichols, N., Phipps, D., Provencal, J., Hewitt, A. (2013) Knowledge mobilization, collaboration, and social innovation: Leveraging investments in higher education. Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, 4(1): 25-42.

The full article is available online here.

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Work Harder to be More Effective / Travailler plus fort pour être plus efficace

David Phipps, RIR-York

Knowledge mobilization is harder than translation or transfer or even exchange. But it is more effective. Yet we continue to invest so much effort in less effective strategies to promote research utilization.

La mobilisation des connaissances est plus difficile que l’adaptation ou même l’échange de connaissances. Mais elle est plus efficace. Pourtant, nous continuons à investir d’important efforts dans des stratégies moins efficaces visant à promouvoir l’utilisation des connaissances.

I continue to read about researchers who lament how difficult it is to get their research implemented by decision makers. For example, one post and another post on GDNet. But these are just two of many examples of knowledge translation where researchers try to package their research in new forms. A leading university recently lamented to me that they need to find a way to get their research papers more widely disseminated in a form that policy makers will use – see our ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries as one solution, but one that we use to help support collaboration, not knowledge translation. Knowledge mobilization is frequently misunderstood as dissemination or research communications on steroids. But it’s more than that.

ResearchSnapshot logo

The problem isn’t that decision makers aren’t receiving the information. They receive too much information. Perhaps all we need to do is present it in context and then they will understand the importance of the research. So we construct knowledge exchange events where research is provided to decision makers in a forum where they can engage more actively with the researchers. But you can’t change people in one event. Knowledge mobilization is frequently misunderstood as knowledge transfer and exchange where knowledge moves between the research producers to the research uses. But it’s more than that.

More than translation, transfer or exchange, knowledge mobilization helps support research collaborations and co-production of knowledge where researchers and decision maker partners jointly produce knowledge that is relevant to the academy as well as to real world problems. There is lots of literature on co-production being the most robust form of knowledge mobilization. See a knowledge mobilization journal club post on this topic.  Furthermore, knowledge mobilization is not challenged by attribution which is an issue in knowledge translation, translation and exchange.

So if the evidence shows that co-production is the most effective way of using research to inform decision making why do researchers who advocate for evidence based decision making fail to base their own decisions on the evidence? A few reasons:

  1. We are knowledge hypocrites. It’s time to practice what we preach.
  2. Funders reinforce the power structure between the campus and the community by providing funding to academic researchers and not community partners. Recent efforts by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada through their Connections program are starting to address this.
  3. It’s the easy thing to do. It operates within existing academic paradigms. It reinforces the artificial dichotomy of “researcher” and “decision maker” and it doesn’t make them work any differently.
  4. It is also easy because it propagates traditional notions of scholarship and what counts as knowledge. Our institutions don’t help by continuing with centuries old notions of tenure that are only now being challenged by groups such as the consortium on Engaged Scholarship, of which many ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities are members.

Bottom line: transfer, translation and exchange are easy compared to mobilization. Telling someone what they need to know is easier than working with them to help co-discover what you both need to know.

Knowledge mobilization is harder but more effective. It is also way more fun.

Hard Work Sign

Knowledge Mobilization Documents Best Practices for Clear Language Research Summaries

The following was originally posted in YFile, York University’s Daily News, on October 23, 2012 and is reposted here with permission.

When it comes to conveying the important research to the broader community, clear language summaries are the best choice, this according to a new article published in the peer-reviewed journal, Scholarly & Research Communications.

Led by David Phipps, executive director of research & innovation services, and colleagues from York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit (KMb), the group put pen to paper to highlight their experiences in summarizing academic research according to clear language writing and design principles over the past four years and how that practice has made research more accessible to the community.

The article titled, “A Field Note Describing the Development and Dissemination of Clear Language Research Summaries for University-Based Knowledge Mobilization”, highlights best practices for the development, evaluation and dissemination of clear language research summaries as tools for research outreach, research communication and knowledge mobilization.  It is co-authored by Michael Johnny, manager, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, Krista Jensen, knowledge mobilization officer at York University and Gary Myers, a community based researcher and author of the KMbeing.com blog.

“Working with our partners and faculty to identify relevant research helps make York’s research accessible and useful to our community partners” says Phipps.

York University piloted institutional knowledge mobilization with the University of Victoria in 2005 under a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Since then, York University has grown its knowledge mobilization collaboration with the University of Victoria to include the other four ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities: Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador, Université du Québec à Montréal, University of Guelph and University of Saskatchewan.

York currently has more than 220 clear language research summaries in a series titled ResearchSnapshot, which is published on Research Impact blog. Working with a cohort of senior undergraduate work study students, the University’s KMb Unit produces between 40 to 50 research summaries every summer.

“York is proud of the work of our award-winning KMb Unit in connecting researchers and students with community partners for social innovation.  As a recognized leader in knowledge mobilization initiatives, York’s work and reputation in this field continues to grow both nationally and internationally,” said Robert Hache, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “The article written by David Phipps and his KMb colleagues provides a framework for others interested in learning more about best practices and York’s initiatives in this area.”

”SRC and its readers are very interested in the communication and use of knowledge as mediated by processes such as knowledge mobilization,” says Rowland Lorimer, SRC editor and director of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University. “The work of David Phipps and his knowledge mobilization colleagues at York University is of growing interest to scholars and research partners who are interested in communicating and using knowledge to benefit Canadians. SRC is pleased they have chose to publish their work with us.”

York University’s KMb Unit and the University of Guelph Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship have recently partnered in support of a project funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to produce clear language summaries of research at the University of Guelph. The KMb Unit is also working on clear language research summaries with the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health Evidence Exchange Network and the Knowledge Network for Applied Education & Research, a knowledge mobilization network funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Education of which York’s Faculty of Education is a partner. With these partnerships in place, York will be hosting over 500 ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries.

To read the full text of the article, click here. To view the ResearchSnapshot for this article, click here.

Meet a Mobilizer – Sabah Haque / Faites la connaissance d’un agent de mobilisation – Sabah Haque

Sabah Haque, RIR – York

This past summer, the KMb Unit at York University was fortunate enough to work with three excellent students. Sabah Haque, a fourth year student in York’s Schulich School of Business, worked as a Research Translation Assistant developing ResearchSnapshot research summaries. She shares her story in this post.

Au cours de l’été, l’Unité de MdC de York University a eu la chance de travailler avec trois excellents étudiants. Sabah Haque, une étudiante de quatrième année à la Schulich School of Business de York, a travaillé au développement des résumés de recherche en langage clair (ResearchSnapshot) à titre d’Assistante à l’adaptation des recherches.

Sabah Haque

As long as there is a worthy cause, I’m in. I have a passion for working with growing organizations, especially when their objective is to create positive social change.  I enjoy using my strengths to do the groundwork and drive the mission forward. This summer, I jumped at the chance to join the KMb Unit at York because the work involved my passion and best skills all in one. Knowledge mobilization has given me the opportunity to use written communication for social innovation. I highly value being able to do work towards community well-being. At the KMb Unit, I contributed to the development of our repository of clear language ResearchSnapshot summaries.

The focus of this summer’s summary development was around Poverty Eradication. I collected research and examined poverty from a variety of perspectives, such as health, inequality, public policy, business and corporate social responsibility, homelessness, and social work. My interests in different subjects like the sciences, humanities and business proved to be an asset in my work because I summarized research from several unique disciplines.

Not only did I get the chance to learn a lot, but most importantly, I was also able to spread the knowledge. Through my work as a Research Translator, I sought to provide holistic insight on the root causes of poverty in Canada and around the world, so that research users can make informed decisions in the effort to eradicate poverty.

I believe knowledge mobilization is an effective method for bridging the gap between research and practice. I hope that the KMb unit continues to make greater impact in the years to come.

A New Development in the World of ResearchSnapshots / Un nouveau développement dans le monde des faits saillants de recherche

Jason Guriel, Evidence Exchange Network

ResearchImpact’s ResearchSnapshot database makes research on climate change, homelessness, and other important topics accessible to a wide range of audiences. But the latest additions to the library – created by Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) – bring an enhanced focus on mental health and addictions research, especially as it relates to Ontario.

Les faits saillants du Réseau Impact Recherche rendent accessibles les recherches sur les changements climatiques, les sans-abris, et d’autres sujets importants à une large audience. Mais les derniers ajouts à la bibliothèque – par Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) – apportent une meilleure représentation des recherches sur la santé mentale et sur les dépendances, notamment en ce qui concerne l’Ontario.

You may not have noticed, but ResearchImpact’s collection of Research Snapshots just got a little bit bigger—a new batch of user-friendly summaries has joined the library!

But why should you care? Isn’t there already a wealth of information to browse? Well, there certainly is; ResearchImpact offers a valuable resource that makes research on climate change, homelessness, and other important topics accessible to a wide range of audiences.

But these latest ResearchSnapshots – created by Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) – bring to ResearchImpact’s library an enhanced focus on mental health and addictions research, especially as it relates to Ontario. Indeed, as a knowledge exchange network, one of EENet’s goals is to ensure that evidence informs the mental health and addictions system in the province. These new Snapshots are a key part of that effort.

We hope that you take a moment to browse through the mental health and addiction / substance use sections of ResearchImpact’s library. Discover what young bloggers are saying about mental health. Find out how we can improve social inclusion for people with mental health issues. Learn about the impact that neighbourhood ‘connectedness’ can have on teen drug use.

And we hope that you come back for more! ResearchImpact is adding new Snapshots by EENet on a regular basis. In fact, thanks to our partnership with ResearchImpact, EENet was able to hire a talented writer, Maia Miller, who has been helping the network create a whole new batch of Snapshots on mental health and addictions.

The EENet Management and Resource Centre is located in the Provincial System Support Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. To learn more about EENet – and to discover other products and tools, beyond ResearchSnapshots – visit www.eenet.ca today!

Jason Guriel is a Communications Associate for Evidence Exchange Network.

A Summer of Clear Language Summaries Ahead! / À venir, un été rempli de résumés de recherche en langage clair

This summer, our writing team at York University has started working on brand new clear language summaries. Look for new, upcoming ResearchSnapshots to be developed around the topic of Poverty Eradication.

Cet été, l’équipe de rédaction de l’Université York a déjà commencé à travailler sur de tout nouveaux résumés de recherche en langage clair. Ne manquez pas les prochains ResearchSnapshot qui porteront sur le thème de l’éradication de la pauvreté.

This summer, the writing team at the KMb Unit at York are back to begin drafting a new set of ResearchSnapshots for our readers!  The theme for us this year is Poverty Eradication.

The initiative stems from York University’s partnership with the United Way of York Region (UWYR) in making KMb a crucial process for community engagement.  Between 2001 and 2006, growing trends have been identified in York Region.  There has been a 55 percent increase of low income earners, while the gap between high and low income earners continues to widen. This includes a 62 percent increase in the number of children living in low income households.

According to the Canadian Make Poverty History Campaign, more than 3.5 million Canadian live in poverty and the numbers are growing for youth, workers, young families, immigrants and people of colour. The world has enough resources, money and technology to end poverty, yet about 1.7 billion people worldwide continue to live in extreme poverty.

A part of the UWYR’s Community Investment Priorities seeks to support peoples’ transition from a life of poverty to possibility. But what exactly is Poverty Eradication?

Poverty is the lack of basic needs, with the experience of low income, education and health.  It also involves the lack of opportunity or capacity to improve one’s life. By analyzing the causes that create these living conditions, poverty eradication seeks to create change and eliminate these underlying causes.

As you will find over the summer, researchers at York and our partner RIR universities have much to offer in the areas of poverty, education, housing and economic vulnerability.  We have two very enthusiastic and dedicated mobilizers in the process of seeking research expertise and developing ResearchSnapshots: Sabah Haque and Paula Elias.

Sabah Haque: Currently, I am a business student at Schulich, and I have dedicated my summer to a cause I really care about. I am pleased to be working with Knowledge Mobilization on the pressing issue of Poverty Eradication. My goal is to provide a wide range of perspectives on how poverty can be alleviated, by making current research accessible to anyone in the community. Research in the areas of social work, business, health and environmental studies (to mention a few) – all play a role in tackling the issues surrounding poverty. This summer, stay tuned to learn about the next steps you can take to put an end to poverty!


Paula Elias: As a writer for York’s KMb Unit since 2010, I have had the pleasure of working with many researchers and becoming a part of our efforts to mobilize knowledge.   As a non-profit worker and educator, mobilizing knowledge has enhanced what I do.   Addressing clear language and supporting accessible knowledge to my students and community partners are so vital, and I look forward to gaining another summer of experience here at York.

A Summer of Summaries / Un été en résumés

David Phipps (RIR- York)

The ResearchSnapshot clear language research summary database holds 170 summaries. Thanks to a summer of writing at York University and collaborations with ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities and other knowledge mobilization organizations this number is poised to triple over the next few months.

La banque de résumés en langage claire ResearchSnapshot contient désormais 170 items. Grâce au travail estival de l’université de York, en collaboration avec des universités du RéseauImpactRecherche – ResearchImpact ainsi qu’avec d’autres organisations de mobilisation des connaissances, ce nombre est amené à tripler dans les prochains mois.

School has begun and it’s time not only to look forward to planning for another academic year of knowledge mobilization services but to also look back on the work of the summer. We held a very successful KMb Expo introducing social innovation, the outcome of the process of knowledge mobilization. We travelled to CUExpo, CAURA and Congress where the most frequently heard question was “how can my university join ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche?”  We started the KMb journal club. We got two papers accepted in peer reviewed journals and were invited to write a chapter in a forthcoming book.

And we wrote in clear language. A lot.  Last year, we published 28 new ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries. This year summer we completed 44 summaries that will be posted in our online searchable database which already contains 170 ResearchSnapshot. In June, we committed to writing about social determinants of health. We are pleased that 21 of the 44 completed research summaries deal with issues related to social determinants of health, those social factors such as poverty, immigration, disability, education that contribute to health inequities. This collection will be a valuable resource for our recently awarded grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to undertake community based knowledge brokering for social determinants of health.

In addition, we have written clear language summaries of research from the University of Victoria and have collaborated with our York University KMb colleagues at the Homeless Hub to produce some of their research summaries in the ResearchSnapshot format. One example is the research produced in collaboration with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that is summarized in the ResearchSnapshot “While home ownership has increased, more people are at risk of homelessness in the cities.” Continue reading