Re-imagining the ivory tower / Reconcevoir la tour d’ivoire

By David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York)

KMb is enhancing transparency and access to universities but as we work hard at engaging we remain struck in silos inside the ivory tower.

La mobilisation des connaissances accroît la transparence et l’accès aux universités. Toutefois, malgré le travail acharné que nous accomplissons en ce sens, nous demeurons prisonniers des silos à l’intérieur de la tour d’ivoire.

Recently I attended a curling bonspiel in Ottawa and because my team lost as soon as they could I ended up on twitter and saw this @fedcan tweet

Good morning all! We’re live blogging @fedcan‘s annual conference this morning at

The Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences (FedCan) was holding their Annual Conference,  which featured a talk by SSHRC President, Chad Gaffield. The theme of the conference was “The Humanities Paradox: More Relevant and Less Visible Than Ever?” and the title of Chad’s talk was “Re-imagining Scholarship in the Digital Age“, both of which had a theme of exploring the relevance of academic research outside of the academy. Chad’s talk was wide ranging but for anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing Chad speak as many times as I have his observations were familiar. They were all linked by the theme of “re-imagining”, imaging a new paradigm of scholarship that is emerging on campuses across Canada. Specifically, Chad spoke of re-imagining in three areas: teaching, research and campus-community connections.


  • The old “professor push” method of teaching is evolving into a student centred, inquiry based method of learning. Text heavy, power point slides are being replaced by image heavy and digital rich media. Students are exploring problems rather than being told solutions.


  • Researchers are pursing horizontal connections across different ways of knowing. This means that researchers are not only reaching out to other scholarly disciplines but they are embracing community, Aboriginal and other traditions of knowledge. Continue reading

Tweet a Mobilizer – what is the sound of eighteen tweeters tweeting? / Tweetez un agent de mobilisation – Quel écho produisent dix-huit gazouilleurs qui se rencontrent?

The ResearchImpact tweet chat gave us a chance to explore this new use of twitter. 187 tweets in 60 minutes raised interest and allowed us to commit to another chat.

La séance tweeter organisé  par le Réseau Impact Recherche nous a donné une chance d’expérimenter ce nouvel usage du populaire media. Les 187 gazouillis (tweets) en 60 minutes ont suscité beaucoup d’intérêt et ont mené à la planification d’une nouvelle séance.

On January 26, ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche hosted our first tweet chat. TweetChat happens in a tweet chat room and is identified by a specific hashtag, which for us was #KMbTaM. We posted the tweet chat announcement on January 19 on Mobilize This! and also on the KTE Community of Practice website. We had no idea what to expect. No one could show up and we could be tweeting to ourselves. Too many people could show up and it would be a cacophony of tweets.

As it turned out we had 18 tweeters who identified themselves in the tweet chat. Others might have been lurking and just listening in. If they didn’t tweet we couldn’t see them, but lurkers were welcome.

The 18 of us tweeted 187 tweets in the 60 minutes of the tweet chat. Some of us, like @ResearchImpact were heavy tweeters. Many contributed in a more modest fashion. See the chart below for all of the tweeters and their tweets. We specifically kept this first chat open rather than restrict to a single topic. We also decided that this would be a many-to-many tweet chat rather than the tweeters focusing their questions on one “authority”.

Three of us (@mobilizemichael, @asedoff, @ResearchImpact) were tweeting live in York’s KMb Unit and @KMbeing was skyped into tweet central. What we found strange was that while we were all sitting next to each other and all responding to each others’ tweets the room remained silent. We were so focused on reading and tweeting we forgot we could actually speak to each other. It also took about 20 seconds to respond to a tweet and 5 seconds to get the tweet to appear. After 25 seconds there were usually a couple of tweets appearing in the interim so it was sometimes hard to follow the thread as we would get multiple topics being discussed at once.

We also asked participants to complete a short survey to inform future tweet chats. We got 11/18 (61%) participants responding to the survey. There was 100% agreement that the tweet chat was useful (“Great idea. I love to have the opportunity to participate in more of them”). With respect to future chats, 46% of respondents thought the open forum format would be welcome and 73% (respondents were allowed to chose more than one response) thought a dedicated forum topic would be useful. We also lost one twitter follower over the hour of the chat. But then with such an activity in our twitter feed that’s not unexpected.

So what’s next?

We will hold another tweet chat, probably in March. It will be focused on a single topic and we may invite a KMb expert to serve as an authority.

This was a great experiment that seemed to meet the needs and interest of the participants and reinforces our commitment to expand our use of twitter and other social media to share information about knowledge mobilization.

Tweet a Mobilizer- January 26 at Noon EST

On Wednesday, January 26, ResearchImpact will be hosting our first ever Tweet a Mobilizer event on TweetChat. Here are the details:

Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time: 12 noon to 1:00 pm EST

In order to take part in this event you must sign up for a Twitter account. If you don’t have a Twitter account, go to and click on the sign up button and follow the instructions to create a profile.

Here are the instructions on how to participate:

1- To sign in: sign into your profile on and then go to TweetChat at

2- To find us: type in KMbTaM in the ‘Enter hashtag to follow’ box

3- To join in: when you get to the conversation page, click the ‘Sign In’ button

4- To allow access: click ‘Allow’ for access

5- Tweet a Mobilizer: Type any questions, answers or comments and hit the ‘update’ button

    2010 by the Numbers

    In a look back on 2010 from our ResearchImpact web perspective we see some good news but also recognize we have some room to grow.

    Looking back on 2010 we see we had reason to celebrate.  By the numbers, 2010 was a good year for ResearchImpact’s web presence.   This is the third recent post that talks about numbers- on November 26, 2010, we presented a summary of our cumulative knowledge mobilization activity; and on December 23, 2010, we presented some 2010 numbers in our Merry Mobilizing card to all of our readers.  Looking back on 2010 from our web perspective we see some good news but also some room to grow.

    Blogging: Mobilize This! received 15,872 views in 2009 and 35,848 in 2010 representing a 126% increase in views.  March to September was almost double the views of the rest of the year!  Thanks to all of you who are reading this right now. Feel free to leave a comment using the comment feature below.  This will let us know how we can better respond to your KMb needs.

    ResearchImpact website: We remain constant in getting about 1 million hits per 8 months over the last 16 months.  We had a 24% increase in web hits over 2009 and a 53% increase in number of visitors (total month over month visitors in 2010 was 70,468).  At 55% our bounce rate isn’t great and people spend about 3 minutes on the site when they land.  It appears that our home page, RSS feed, ResearchSnapshots and KMb bookmarks are the most frequented pages.

    ResearchImpact O3 community: Our O3 online collaboration platform wasn’t around much in 2009 for a comparison.  Looking at the last 6 months of 2010 vs. the first 6 months we see a 159% increase in visits (total visits in last half of 2010 were 2,539) with a bounce rate of only 30% (thanks for sticking around).  O3 is new to Ontario and it is new to us (thank you ORION for featuring us in your video and newsletter).   As we expand our collaborations we aim to continue to use O3 to support knowledge mobilization and co-creation of new knowledge between researchers and their research partners.

    And finally, Twitter: We took a look at our twitter activity on March 30, 2010.  At that time we had 345 followers and were following 99.  As of January 4, 2011 we have 744 followers and are following 189.  Both numbers roughly doubled but we had slightly greater growth in followers.  According to Klout, a service that measures twitter presence and influence along three variables (true reach, amplification and network = Klout score), ResearchImpact had a Klout score of 52 out of a possible 100 on January 3, 2011. While we don’t know what that means (Oprah is about 80 for comparison), we are described as a “specialist”:

    “You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.”

    Specialist?  We’ll happily be known as a specialist.

    Thanks to all who retweeted (50 unique retweeters retweeting 100 unique tweets for a total of 250 retweets) and for all who follow us.  Props and a big shout out to our top twitter followers below – @KMbeing standing out amongst them.

    So, for 2011?  Stay the course.  Join us for a new feature, a tweet chat on Wednesday January 26, 2011 (“Tweet a Mobilizer”).  Work on the bounce rate for and also welcome more of our KMb colleagues from the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities as they post material on the website, this blog and develop their own twitter presence.  The first four years of ResearchImpact’s web presence has mostly been about York and York Region.  2011 will see our web presence become truly pan-Canadian.

    Results from our Social Media Survey

    ResearchImpact has had a web presence since 2006 when we first launched our site Since then, we have made substantial changes to the site 2007 and 2009. We entered the Web 2.0 world with the launch of this blog in May of 2008 and then started using twitter (@researchimpact), delicious ( and O3 (, the online collaborative research platform developed by ORION in the spring of 2009.

    We believe that social media or Web 2.0 tools are an important part of the research collaboration and KMb process and wanted to understand our community’s satisfaction with our online services, how they were using social media tools (ours and in general) and what features they would like to see us add in the future. So in November 2009, we conducted a survey asking our community to rate our online services and social media tools.

    We invited everyone who receives our monthly email newsletter, anyone who had been to one of our KMb events, as well as anyone who had received one of our funding opportunities to take part in the survey (1151 people in total) and we received 99 responses. A report including all the responses is available here- Full Survey Results Report but here are some of the overall findings and suggestions that were made, as well as our plans to address some of the suggestions:

    We asked 25 questions; the first set of questions focused on our web site, this blog, our monthly newsletter and twitter feed. We asked what people thought of of these tools and if they had any suggestions for improvement; and the second part of the survey asked questions about the use of common social media or Web 2.0 tools- which tools they use and which tools would they like us to start using.

    Some Findings

    • The top two reasons for visiting our web site is to find information on knowledge mobilization and to learn about upcoming events
    • The majority of people who could rate the features on our web site were either satisfied or very satisfied with the features and no more than 5% of respondents found anything very unsatisfactory or unsatisfactory
    • The top three features people would like to see our on site are- Success Stories/examples of KM successes; a calendar of events (which we have added) and an Ask a Mobilizer feature, which could be a forum for questions to a KM researcher or practitioner
    • The majority of people (52.9%) were not aware that they could comment or ask a question on our blog postings and the majority of people (91.2%) have never left a comment on our blog. To leave us a comment, click on “Leave a Comment” at the top of this post
    • The majority of respondents (71%) were not on Twitter; 14.5 % were on Twitter but not following us; 8.7% were on Twitter and follow @researchimpact; and a final 5.8% did not know what Twitter was
    • Reading blogs and using Wikipedia, were the most common web 2.0 activities of our readers (40.6% read blogs on a monthly basis; and 54.5% used Wikipedia on a monthly basis).
    • The majority of people never used tools such as facebook (37.3%), Myspace (93.7%), flickr (62.9%), delicious (90.6%), ning (89.1%), friendfeed (93.8%) or Linkedin (60.7%). In addition, most people never wrote blogs (79%), commented on blogs (77.8%), read wikis other than Wikipedia (50.8%) or contributed to wikis other than Wikipedia (81.3%).
    • The top three picks for new tools to be added to the ResearchImpact web site were-Discussion forums; Collaboration tools such as document sharing, wiki; Connection tools such as database to find researchers, receptors, brokers, students
    • 80.7% of people said they use social media tools for both work and personal use

    Web Site and Blog Story Suggestions

    These are some of the suggestions we received and how we plan to answer your call:

    1. Success stories/examples of KMb successes

    • In response to this request for more success stories and examples of KMb successes, we are currently working on adding more KMb stories to the KMb in Action section of our web site found at We anticipate adding three more stories to this section in May and then adding regular content here over the summer of 2010.

    2. Calendar of events

    3. Cross disciplinary examples

    • This is a topic we often address here on our blog. Two examples include our posts about  the research partnership between Stephen Gaetz, Faculty of Education, York University and Bernie Pauly, School of Nursing, University of Victoria (read it here) and the Aboriginal Policy Research Forum which brought together faculty members from four universities, as well as policy makers and citizens from across Canada (read it here).

    4. International KMb stories and examples

    • We are planning to add a new regular series of posting to this blog called KMb World, which will feature stories and examples of KMb units and projects from across the world. We are currently in the process of soliciting stories and anticipate being able to share some of these stories in the coming months. If you know of someone undertaking key KMb work in other countries please let us know using the comment feature on this blog.

    5. If I had a KMb wish… blog

    • This idea was suggested by one of the respondents and we plan to implement this in the near future.

    6. Successful KMb strategies

    • We are developing a series of KMb tool kits which will cover a variety of KMb strategies that we use, such as how to develop research summaries, how to plan a KMb event, how to set up a social media strategy, etc. We plan to post this series of tool kits or “how-to’s” on the ResearchImpact web site in the coming months.

    Over the last three years we have rolled out new web features at Congress. This year the theme of Congress is “Connected Understanding”. ResearchImpact will be rolling out some of these new features as we present at Congress 2010. Visit us if you’re in Montreal May 28-June 4!

    Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer the survey and please leave a comment if you have any more ideas or suggestions.

    Public Policy Forum on Social Innovation, November 10

    On November 10, I had the pleasure of attending a one-day conference hosted by the Public Policy Forum on Social Innovation. MaRS, Social Innovation Generation, Imagine Canada and HRSDC also provided support to the conference. With 100 attendees representing policy, public service, research and the private sectors and with representation from across Canada (I had the pleasure of sitting with Eastern Canadians).

    The event provided a forum for open dialogue, and with 100 people present, that was an impressive feat. The Public Policy Forum encouraged participants to share information throughout the day, and I was one of many who were ‘tweeting’ interesting nuggets on good practices on social innovation.

    In addition to panels of practitioners who shared their experiences and examples of social innovation, highlighted speakers were Janice Charette, HRSDC Deputy Minster and SSHRC President Dr. Chad Gaffield. Dr. Gaffield shared the leadership role that SSHRC has played in supporting research to enable social innovation. He gave a shout out to ResearchImapct, led by York University, as an example of Canadian university leadership in enabling social innovation. Dr. Gaffield stated a new integrated model of collaboration calls on university researchers to play a part. ResearchImpact is honoured to be playing a role to facilitate this new model of collaboration.

    There is strong leadership in Canada to move forward with an agenda of social innovation. Entrepreneurs, researchers, educators, policy makers, youth and even knowledge brokers have a place to help shape a social innovation agenda for the betterment of Canadians. Most important for me was the opportunity to witness that Social Innovation, like Knowledge Mobilization, is easiest understood from a practical place. I was honoured to be with so many leaders who make a positive contribution to Canadian society through their work.

    For more information on the Public Policy Forum, click here.

    Thirty four mobilizers walk into a bar…

    CocktailsSSHRC invited 34 knowledge mobilization projects from their Knowledge Impact in Society and SSHRC Clusters to a workshop in Ottawa October 22-23.

    Day 1: Not being challenged by systemic introversion our mob of mobilizers (mostly academic leaders, some project coordinators and two lone staff leading institutional knowledge mobilization services at David YetmanYork and Memorial) had no problem mashing up in different combinations be it in their KIS or Cluster cohort or the sector of primary engagement. Most of the day was spent exploring “issues” around knowledge mobilization. The usual topics of incentives, barriers, metrics & evaluation were on the agenda. Refreshingly some new topics including an alleged research/KM dichotomy and social media were also discussed.

    Research vs KM got a lot of play with opinions on both sides of and in between the hypotheses that research and KM are either on a spectrum of activities or they are two sides of a coin, related but separate. ResearchImpact works with researchers, their institutions and their non academic research collaborators to create Clair Donovanspace for basic research AND space for applied research linking to extra academic impact (thank you Clair Donovan) as well as a spectrum of activities and services in between. KM is a process intimately interwoven with research. It is not a discrete event that happens in isolation of the research. Measures of extra academic impact complement, they do not conflict, with measures of academic quality. A repeated theme was the desire for infrastructure (cash, expertise, systems) to support the spectrum between basic research and extra academic impact.

    twitterAlso interesting was a breakout session on social media. ResearchImpact tweeted @researchimpact during this session resulting in a number of RTs and DMs – on the spot web 2.0 mobilization of knowledge about knowledge mobilization. SSHRC, our academic researchers and their non-academic research collaborators only need to look at Surfertheir graduate students to see how social media will play an increasingly important role. You don’t have to lead the wave but if you don’t ride it, it will pass you by.

    York is definitely leading the wave. With a total of 5 engaged research and knowledge mobilization projects York has by far the best representation of any Canadian university at this meeting. ResearchImpact was pleased to be joined by Canadian Homeless Research Network, Canadian Refugee Research Network, Canadian Business Ethics Research Network and the Toronto Employment Immigrant Data Initiative.

    Tiedi, CBERN and Homeless Hub

    BeerReception done. Dinner done. Blog written. Beer being consumed thanks to Southern Cross Grill. Need to recharge before day 2 of this important workshop. Thank you SSHRC for creating this space where 34 mobilizers could walk into a bar and begin to network. Trouble was it was a cash bar and alcohol is not an eligible expense on a SSHRC grant even though it is a key success factor in networking and knowledge mobilization! Maybe we’ll make that a recommendation for future program development.