Practicing New Skills and New Vocabularies: Reflections on Student Training in Knowledge Mobilization: Part 1 / Nouvelles habiletés et nouveaux vocabulaires en pratique : réflexions sur la formation des étudiants en mobilisation des connaissances (1re partie)

Rachel Salt, Brianne Brady, and Anne Bergen, Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, University of Guelph,

Knowledge mobilization is an emerging field of practice, and there are currently relatively few explicit knowledge mobilization training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. However, this perceived gap is due, in part, to a naming problem – although relatively few students are aware of jargon related to KTT and KMb, students engage in KTT and KMb activities relatively often. At the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship at the University of Guelph, we are trying to overlay the vocabularies associated with KMb and KTT on student work related to curating, sharing, and exchanging information. In some cases, this takes the form of social media accounts, but this can also relate to logistics surrounding intra-organizational KMb – in this case, our in-house updates to graduate student interns. We present here two reflections on both beginning KMb work and labeling that work as KMb. This week we hear from Rachel Salt and next week we will hear from Brianne Brady.

La mobilisation des connaissances (MdC) est un domaine qui émerge à peine dans le champ universitaire, et il existe à l’heure actuelle assez peu de possibilités de formation destinées aux étudiants des universités qui lui soient explicitement consacrées. Cependant, cette perception d’un manque est attribuable en partie à un problème de dénomination : bien que le jargon de la mobilisation, de la transmission ou de l’application des connaissances ne soit familier qu’à un nombre relativement restreint d’étudiants, ceux-ci mènent pourtant assez souvent des activités qui relèvent de ces domaines. À l’Université de Guelph, l’Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship s’efforce donc de recouper le vocabulaire de la mobilisation et de la transmission des connaissances avec celui de travaux d’étudiants qui portent sur l’organisation, la diffusion et l’échange d’information. Dans certains cas, cela prend la forme de comptes rendus dans les médias sociaux. Mais cela peut concerner également la logistique de la MdC au sein d’une même organisation, et prendre la forme, comme c’est le cas ici, des mises à jour que nous préparons à l’interne pour nos stagiaires des cycles supérieurs. Les deux commentaires que nous présentons abordent à la fois les premières étapes d’un travail de MdC et la reconnaissance de ce travail en tant que mobilisation des connaissances. Nous accueillons cette semaine Rachel Salt, et la semaine prochaine, Brianne Brady.

Social Media and Knowledge Mobilization: A Graduate Student’s Perspective – Rachel Salt

When I was offered a position to manage two professional twitter accounts I was very grateful and excited; but I was also intensely fearful and a bit of a skeptic.  Before I jump into my experience as a Social Media Manager, some background on the programs I tweeted for:

University of GuelphAs a graduate student at the University of Guelph (and former undergraduate student) I wanted to find ways to help give back to the city that had given so much to me, so I began interning at the Research Shop.  The Research Shop acts as a portal between community and university research needs, where interns work with community partners to identify and address problems, which range from sustainable food to transforming social systems.  The Research Shop operates under the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES).  ICES builds capacity for community-engaged scholarship by strengthening faculty and student engagement with local, national and international communities of interest, addressing faculty reward and development, and training faculty and students in knowledge mobilization.

After a year of interning, I was offered a position to manage the accounts for the Research Shop (@Researchshop) and ICES (@ICESGuelph).  I was so excited by the opportunity, but nervous as well.  I had never sent a tweet in my life!  What was the purpose of hashtags?  What did RT and MT mean?  I was also nervous about the position because I was honestly a bit skeptical about Twitter itself – wasn’t that just a place for celebrities to pick fights with one another, or a place for people to broadcast the restaurant they were eating at?

Before I started to write tweets I did some preliminary research.  I quickly discovered how my constricted assumptions about what Twitter is were way off.  There are social media ethics, strategies, proper tone, how often to tweet, what to tweet, and when to tweet.  Twitter is serious business.

twitter birdMy first few tweets took an embarrassingly long amount of time to construct.   I had so much I wanted to say and so little space to say it.  However, the learning curve was not too steep and I soon began to get the hang of it.  My boss and knowledge mobilization guru, Dr. Anne Bergen, set me up on HootSuite a social media management site.  For me, this made tweeting a lot easier.  I liked being able to schedule when my tweets went out, for example, if I found an interesting article on community engaged scholarship Sunday night I could schedule a tweet to go out at a higher traffic time on Monday morning (I learned that the best times to send academic tweets are between 10-11AM and 2-3PM – which happens to coincide with a lot of people’s coffee break!). Using HootSuite I was able to track the mention of relevant hashtags on twitter, such as #KMb, #CES, or #KTT.  I also liked that I could attach pdf’s and word documents.  I stopped thinking about tweets being only 140 characters of information and started thinking of them as 140 character bylines leading readers to find out more.  Before this experience I was unfamiliar with the terms ‘knowledge mobilization’ and ‘knowledge translation’.  Through this experience I have gained a much better grasp of what this is (via ‘following’ professionals in the field and reading the articles they share), and I’ve also realized what an effective knowledge mobilization tool social media can be.

This experience taught me so many different things.  I became more aware of events and activities going on in my community and started to hear about conferences, people, and organizations from around the world, which in the past I had not known existed.  Twitter is also an excellent format to share grey literature and update people on how a project is progressing.  In my personal life I find myself using twitter as my first source for news updates.  I’ve even started my own semi-professional personal twitter account, which I use to follow people I admire, look for work, and share information about projects I am involved in.  As a recent graduate and on the hunt for full-time work, I’ve been shocked at how many positions require professional experience in social media.  This speaks volumes about how important an effective social media presence is, and how former skeptics like me can no longer ignore this powerful tool.

Confessions of a tweeter / Confessions d’une twitteuse

Cathy Malcolm Edwards, RIR – Carleton

Cathy Malcolm Edwards, Research Facilitator, Institutional Initiatives at Carleton University and member of RIR, talks about her introduction to social media and the twitterverse. 

Cathy Malcolm Edwards, coordonnatrice de recherches au Service des projets universitaires de la Carleton University et membre du RIR, raconte son initiation aux médias sociaux et au monde du twitter.

Cathy Malcolm Edwards“Hi, my name is Cathy Malcolm Edwards and I am an introvert.” This thought often circles through my mind when I am in group settings or facing a long day of back-to-back meetings. At the start of my journey into the world of knowledge mobilizing (I am a relative newbie, entering the world in May 2013), I thought this truth might be a barrier to being truly effective in this role. Then one day, my colleague, Kyla Reid, introduced me to social media, specifically the twitterverse.

You might be thinking to yourself “Cathy, it is 2013! Where the heck have you been living? Myspace has been around since 2003 and Facebook since 2004?” Well, while the rest of the planet was jumping in to the virtual world of social media, I was proudly in my cocoon rejecting every “You’ve been invited” email that came my way. At the time, I didn’t see the benefits of social media. It was just one more social event – another thing that I would have to get done and keep updated. I was a hipster, too cool to engage in the platforms of popularity. Oh, how wrong I was.

I am not saying I am a full convert per se and I still do have my hipster attitude about a lot of things (including Facebook), but I am also not too proud to admit that I am enjoying my time spent on twitter in particular. I love taking a few minutes each day to read posts and connect with the community. I often come across something that encourages me towards introspection or gives me an “aha!” moment. My introvert is quite satisfied. I can socialize in my own way, on my own time, and in digestible chunks. I have discovered that social media can be my friend, not my enemy. It allows me to connect and converse with the amazing community around me while nurturing my curiosity and quest for knowledge. I invite you to join me on this journey of discovery @mobilizethat.

KT Post Cards from #BRAIN2013 – Day 1 – Diversity

Anneliese Poetz and David Phipps

Anneliese Poetz and David Phipps

By David Phipps (RIR-York, writing as NeuroDevNet KT Core Lead)

The Knowledge Translation (KT) Core for NeuroDevNet, a network of centres of excellence focused on research, training and KT for childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, is busy making connections at the 2013 Brain Conference. Hosted by York University’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit, David Phipps (KT Core – Lead) and Anneliese Poetz (KT Core – Manager) are presenting KT services, live tweeting (#Brain2013) and capturing the KT of the conference using a speakers corner.

Life at the booth is steady with many deep conversations about how the KT Core can support different research projects.

Health economics: how can we connect a graduate student investigating health economics in Cerebral Palsy with policy makers.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: how can we support two students seeking to use their research to inform high school science curriculum through a teachers’ workshop during a Professional Development Day. How can we use on line collaborative communities to enable quick and ready publishing on on line resources.

Neuroethics: we will be writing some published peer reviewed articles in 2 page ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries.

Social media: youtube vs vimeo, blogging, twitter, twitter, twitter, slide share, event brite…lots of appetite for understanding how different social media tools can support KT and scholarship. The KT Core (with help from Krista Jensen of York’s KMb Unit) delivered a workshop on social media. There is also lots of reticence from some unsure about the relationship between academic author and academic blogger. For more on this please see a recent blog on Mobilize This.

This diversity, not only of subject matter but also of KT method, is testament to the appetite for KT among researchers, students and partners. We’re busy. We have meetings from 6 am to dinner after 6 pm. And we’re excited at this level of energy because we want to fulfill our mission of maximizing the impact of research and training on families and children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Krista Jensen running the trainee social media workshop

Krista Jensen running the trainee social media workshop

Knowledge Mobilization for New Graduate Students / La mobilisation des connaissances et les étudiants des cycles supérieurs

Shawna Reibling, RIR – Laurier

Educating new graduate students about knowledge mobilization is a good way to educate the next generation of professors about knowledge mobilization principles and ensure that graduate students are prepared to make a difference in the world. 

En faisant connaître la mobilisation des connaissances à ceux et celles qui commencent leurs études supérieures, on se trouve à former la prochaine génération de professeurs aux principes de la MdC, tout en préparant ces étudiants à agir concrètement dans le monde. 

Photo from the workshopThis year Wilfrid Laurier University has taken knowledge mobilization education to a new generation of graduate students – those just beginning their programs. At Laurier there are many programs that have direct community based work embedded in the curriculum: community psychology, social work, music therapy, entrepreneurship, etc. These programs have outreach, community involvement, community based research and social innovation all incorporated into their programs and course work.

But beyond this, the hunger for making research relevant to people in the community extends beyond such focused, applied programs. When offering skills to these new graduate students, I collaborated with my colleague in the library Michael Steeleworthy, on a presentation entitled: “Your digital footprint: what does the internet know about digital (professional) you?

This workshop was meant to get new graduate students to think about their identities online, how they wanted to incorporate knowledge mobilization into their program of study through social media.

We are also extending this training to our faculty, offering a workshop “How to organize your online identity” in October. Please visit to register and see our workshops.

As part of these presentations we also equipped students with some guidelines around “building your research-related skills to drive your success

These skills include knowledge mobilization tools and techniques including reaching out to communities, engaging and listening to audiences for your research, writing clear language summaries, etc. To prepare for this workshop we asked Twitter for advice: “What advice do you have for graduate students just beginning to do knowledge mobilization?” Here are the answers:

  • @abbaspeaks “easier to motivate graduate students into early #KM, funding often hinges on it”
  • @mobilizemichael and @eldancos agreed with advice to “engage community and/or policy leaders so research question is well rooted #integratedkmb

I turn it over to you readers, what advice do you have for graduate students just beginning to do knowledge mobilization?

Fall 2013 York KMb Learning Events / Les activités d’apprentissage offertes par York MdC en automne 2013

York KMb is offering sessions for researchers, staff and graduate students to help make their research relevant to professional practice and policy development.

York MdC offre des séances de formation à l’attention des professeurs, du personnel et des étudiants gradués afin de les aider à accroître la pertinence de leurs recherches sur le plan de la pratique professionnelle et du développement de politiques.

For Fall 2013, the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York will be offering the following learning sessions:

Social Media

Social Media for Research 101 – This lunch hour session will provide an overview of social media tools and their relevance to collaborative research projects. September 9 noon-1:00; November 12 noon-1:00 Register now!

Social Media for Research 201 – This session will provide more detailed information on the strategies and tools for social media tools and their relevance to collaborative research projects, such as analytics and partnering strategies. October 9 9:30-noon Register now!

Social Media Strategy Building  – Want to start using social media tools but don’t want to fall victim to “shiny object syndrome”? This hands on session will focus on getting a plan together and planning steps to implement it. September 16 9:30-noon; November 18 9:30-noon Register now!

Facebook – Join us for this hands on session and learn how to set up a facebook page for your KMb efforts, and keep it separate from your personal account. October 3 1:30-4:00 Register now!

Twitter – A 2.5 hour hands-on session where Twitter is introduced within a research context. Participants can set up an account and learn about practical applications for their research. October 30 1:30-4:00 Register now!

O3 – O3 is an online collaborative tool for available free to researchers, which can facilitate effective and efficient collaboration (without flooding your email inbox!) November 27 9:30-noon Register now!

WordPress – Blogging is emerging as a popular medium to share information and express ideas. Researchers are finding interesting uses for blogs to complement their scholarship. Join us and learn what blogging can do to enhance your KMb efforts. September 24 1:30-4:00 Register now!

Knowledge Mobilization

Effective Community Engagement – What are successful practices in engaging community around research? What needs to be considered to effectively engage, build relationships and strong partnerships outside of the university? This 2.5 hour workshop will introduce values, examples of good practices and allow for dialogue to enhance your engagement efforts. September 19 1:30-4:00 Register now!

Good Practices in KMb – Learn from examples at York U and across Canada. What practices seem to work effectively? How can we determine effectiveness? How can I connect need to practice? This 2.5 hour workshop will engage participants in the context of their own research projects. November 20 1:30-4:00 Register now!

KMb and Communications – What are the intersections and where do these two diverge? This 2.5 hour session will introduce you to knowledge mobilization; explore the relationships between the two and share examples on how they can complement one another and how they are unique. October 8 9:30-noon; November 28 9:30-noon Register now!

KMb Strategy Building – Granting councils are asking more and more for research teams to identify their KMb strategy. In this hands on session, learn about strategic elements, create a draft strategy for your project, and tips on how to present your strategy. September 10 9:30-noon; October 10 1:30-4:00 Register now!

Clear Language Writing and Design – Sessions designed to introduce the principles and practical tips on writing for the reader, including diverse audiences. October 25 9:00-noon Register now!

To register for any of the sessions, please visit or contact Krista Jensen, KMb Officer, at or 416-736-2100 ext 88847

I’m a researcher, why do I blog? / Je suis un chercheur, qu’est-ce que je fais ici à bloguer?

Will Gage, Associate Dean, Research & Innovation, Faculty of Health, York University

This week’s blog post is a guest post from Dr. Will Gage. Dr. Gage is the Associate Dean, Research & Innovation in the Faculty of Health at York University the owner of the blog Don’t Fall, which shares on falls prevention research and expertise.

Le billet de cette semaine est signé par un blogueur invité, le docteur Will Gage. M. Gage est vice-doyen à la recherche et à l’innovation à la Faculté des soins de santé de l’Université York. Son cybercarnet intitulé Don’t Fall aborde des questions de recherche et d’expertise dans le domaine de la prévention des chutes.

Dr. Will Gage

Dr. Will Gage

Six months ago I really didn’t even know what “blogging” was. I’d never read a blog. I knew only one person who blogged – my friend Matt, a photographer who was taking pictures of and writing about the Grand River in Kitchener-Waterloo. I recall from last summer a conversation with Matt about social media. What is this? Why do you “tweet”? Isn’t this a waste of time? He looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t understand, I didn’t get social media, and from my perspective he was the crazy one. How things for me have changed.

Almost two years ago, I took up my current academic appointment as Associate Dean Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Health at York University. At that time I set about trying to have conversations with people across campus, about innovation. I’m a researcher myself, so the “research” part of the title was self-evident. But innovation, this was going to be a challenge. In my conversations, and in my reading on the topic (as any academic would, I attempted to gain a theoretical mastery of the topic while garnering no actual practical ability), I quickly realized that no two people had the same definition of “innovation”. Then I realized that no two industries seem to have the same definition of innovation. But this is a topic of conversation for another day. In these conversations and readings I kept coming across “social media” as an opportunity for academics to share the gospel of their research. Is that how researchers see their work? As gospel? So it was time for me to learn more. Maybe I was the crazy one, not Matt.

David and Michael really introduced me to the idea of academics blogging about their work for the sake of knowledge mobilization. They opened my eyes to the possibilities afforded by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. I realized that this is innovation, at least by one definition of innovation. Academics can tell the story of their research and share their knowledge with everyone. Okay, it can be done. But why would anyone do this? People are more often than we’d like to believe guided by WIIFM – what’s in it for me? I don’t believe that the answer is self-evident to most researchers. But having said that, the research funding agencies want to know that we can, and do, translate our knowledge and disseminate it for public consumption, so maybe at the very least writing a blog helps a researcher to hone those lesser used skills around lay writing. But in my opinion this is not a compelling reason to write a blog.

I believe that a more compelling reason to write a blog is money. The Benjamins. (Do we Canadians say “The Bordens”? I’ve never heard that phrase used in bank heist movie). Not personal wealth, though that’s not off the table. No, I’m talking about research funding. I’m talking a little bit about peer-reviewed research funding – the Tri-councils and so on – but I’m mostly talking about donor funding. This is a conversation that I’m having with the Advancement Officer in Faculty of Health – can the stories that I’m writing on my blog be useful for informing potential donors about the value of my work, and the work of my colleagues in the field, such that it might make it easier to separate the donor from their dollars?

Dontfall.caWhat I’m writing on my blog are indeed stories. If I’m writing about knee replacement surgery and how the patient demographics are shifting and patients are getting younger and younger around the world (this is actually the topic of the blog post that I’m writing currently), well this can be intensely personal for the reader with severe knee arthritis who thinks she’ll have to live for the next 15 years with excruciating pain because she’s only 50 years right now. Who doesn’t know an older person who has fallen in the past year? If you have anyone over 65 years of age in your life, you probably do, even if you don’t realize it and they haven’t told you. Can this be an effective means to tell the public about our work? Can the material we write for our blogs prove valuable in the constant campaign to raise funding to support research? I think it can. I’m building a library of accessible material that can be repurposed for any number of reasons, one of which may be fundraising efforts.

I’ve come to learn that there are many reasons to adopt a social media strategy for disseminating your research. Thought-leaders like David and Michael have known this for years, I know. And one at a time, they’re converting people like me. I hope that you can take away from this article some ideas and rationale for dedicating some of your time to, perhaps, blogging about your work.

One last thought … as researchers we’re often confronted with collegial (and sometimes not so collegial) criticism pertaining to our work. My blog audience is grateful for the time I take and effort I devote. Their feedback is amazing. Invigorating. And when it follows on the heels of excoriating reviewer responses to my latest journal submission, it’s reinvigorating.

Social Media as a Tool to Disseminate ASD Mental Health Research / Les médias sociaux comme outils pour diffuser la recherche en santé mentale sur les troubles du spectre de l’autisme

Jonathan Weiss, Faculty of Health and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research, York University
Michael Johnny, RIR York

A commitment to social media can help support important messages in research being shared to diverse audiences.

 L’emploi des médias sociaux peut favoriser la diffusion à des publics divers d’importants messages issus de la recherche.

Jonathan Weiss

Jonathan Weiss

Social media is not a new medium for disseminating academic research but it is one that is relatively new and not widely utilized by academic researchers. Dr. Jonathan Weiss of York University and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research has adopted social media as an important component of his collaboration, engagement and dissemination efforts. His rationale is embedded in the title of an early blog entry on his recently created ASD Mental Health blog, “Why Focus a Blog on Mental Health and Autism Spectrum Disorders? How Could We Not“? An understanding that research is only part of the continuum of desired changes to policy and practice around Autism, social media was determined to be an important tool to support engagement with project partners, research dissemination to diverse end users, and an opportunity to access additional information and contacts to continue to support the ongoing research agenda.

This is all aligned with a clear and comprehensive knowledge translation (KT) strategy for the project team. Simply put, the objectives of KT for this project are to enable research to inform decision making along the spectrum of Autism service. Informed by the leading work of Melanie Barwick who had led Scientist Knowledge Translation Training courses, an integrated KT strategy has been employed. This means ongoing engagement with stakeholders. Information will be shared in a timely manner and in relevant formats allowing for easy access to research to encourage specific recommendations to enable research to meet its objectives of helping inform policy and practice.

ASD Mental Health Chair logo

The Chair website and blog have been combined with the work of numerous project partners, to create a web of engagement that meets the needs of all involved. For ResearchImpact, this is an excellent example of how social media can be effectively used as part of a KT strategy. For the project team, it is an important tool to disseminate and access relevant information related to Autism and Mental Health research.

Visit the Chair in Autsim Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research website at,  the ASD Mental Health blog at and the complete list of research summaries at And watch the ResearchImpact twitter feed @researchimpact for the rest of this week, where we will be tweeting about ASD Mental Health ResearchSnapshots.