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.

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.

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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

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.

♫Let it Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow♫

ResearchImpact announces growth in research summaries, community access, outreach and new web tools.

Three recent stories speak to the continued development of KM services at York:

Research Summaries and Community Collaboration Stations

As reported in YFile on December 4, 2009, York announced the release of 40 additional ResearchSnapshot research summaries. This effectively doubles the number of research summaries available to inform decisions by York’s current and prospective research collaborators. See www.researchimpact.ca/researchsearch for a searchable database of ResearchSnapshots. YFile also reported on the opening of 2 Community Collaboration Stations. The KM Unit on the 2nd floor of the York Research Tower opened 2 work stations including York computers linked into the York Libraries. These two work stations will allow York research collaborators access to York research infrastructure. To reserve time on one of York’s Community Collaboration Station, please email kmunit@yorku.ca .

Social Media tools for Knowledge Mobilization

ResearchImpact previously wrote about its involvement in the launch of ORION’s social media platform, O3. On December 1, 2009 ORION’s newsletter featured an interview with ResearchImpact’s David Phipps discussing the role social media can play to enhance KM services.

New Web Stories: KM in Action

We have also made some changes to the ResearchImpact web site. New content has been added throughout the site but we have launched a new section called KM in Action. This sections features stories of successful KM outcomes or research and research use that was enabled by KM services at ResearchImpact institutions including stories on KM interns (Free the Children, Toronto Wildlife Centre), York’s KM Expo and UVic’s CUExpo in 2008 plus others. Stay tuned for more videos and stories of KM in Action to come.

KM at Queen’s University

The Queen’s University Office of Research Services hosted David Phipps to speak about the road to an institutional KM Unit. David was joined by Yolande Chan, Monieson Centre, Queen’s School of Business, who is a holder of a Knowledge Impact and Society grant and has established a KM capacity focused on economic development in Eastern Ontario. David and Yolande jointly presented on their respective KM activities and began the start of a conversation to explore inter-institutional KM collaboration. Look for Yolande and her team on twitter @RuralKnowledge.

ResearchSnapshots, Community Collaboration Stations, increased utilization of social media, KM outreach and stories of KM in Action are testament to our commitment to excellence in knowledge mobilization by our faculty, graduate students and their research collaborators.

Watch us grow, Watch us grow, Watch us grow


York’s Special Research Edition of YorkU Magazine Looks Back on KM as We Look Forward to More

Stan ShapsonSam SchwartzLast week York published its special Research Edition of York U, the magazine of York University. This edition of YorkU features many stories of only a few of the great researchers we have at York but KM was up front and personal. KM was featured in the welcome from VP Research & Innovation, Stan Shapson and the introduction from Sam Schwartz, Chair of the Board Academic Resources Committee. President Shoukri linked KM right back to York’s mission statement illustrating the foundational role KM plays between the university and its non-academic research stakeholders, “Knowledge is of no benefit to anyone if it sits on a shelf. The greatest responsibility of the university is to mobilize that knowledge – to share it with the community and the world to help solve the problems we face, to improve competitiveness, to increase prosperity.”

KM at York started in 2005 with a CIHR/SSHRC Intellectual Property Mobilization grant to York and our KM partner University of Victoria. Working from two other SSHRC grants we have also received support from York’s Division of Vice-President Research & Innovation as well as important financial support from our partners, York Region District School Board and Regional Municipality of York. Money is nice but partnership is essential. United Way of York RegionOver the last 4 years we have worked with over 100 different community and government agencies who have worked with York faculty and graduate students. Some of our strong supporters have helped out on our Joint Advisory Committee and the United Way of York Region permeates our existence in a mutually supportive fashion.

President ShoukriYork’s KM Unit has brokered a number of relationships that continue to grow. President Shoukri mentioned some of these including a few we have previously written about such as Mobilizing Minds and a partnership between Stephen Gaetz’ Homeless Hub and Bernie Pauly of UVic. These are but two of the 155 partnerships we have brokered since 2005. That’s good but not good enough. We continue to work with local organizations seeking to engage with York research. We have a great relationship with the MITACS ACCELERATE Program to fund graduate interns working with decision maker organizations. ResearchSnapshotWe are piloting social networking tools for research and knowledge mobilization. We are poised to double our library of ResearchSnapshot research summaries and we are seeking to add other universities and communities to ResearchImpact, Canada’s knowledge mobilization network.

That’s what we’ve done but let us know how we’re doing. Tell us how wonderful we are or how we can do better using the comment feature above. To help us grow and meet your needs better we shall soon be sending you and all our KM community a survey about our web based services. Thanks for helping us grow.

Read the YorkU Magazine articles here. And to read the whole Special Research Edition 2010 of YorkU, click here.