By David Phipps, RIR York
My cat GoGo likes to interrupt my work. Whether she is sitting on me or sitting on my papers or competing with my laptop for my lap she is always interrupting my work.
But in this picture (below), GoGo also reminds me how valuable Using Evidence continues to be.
Sandra Nutley and her colleagues Isabel Walter and Huw T.O. Davies published their book, Using Evidence: How research can inform public services, in 2007. There has been TONS written on the broader subjects of knowledge mobilization, research utilization, implementation science etc since then but this book is truly a foundation for our work, especially for those of us working in social services and social policy. The book covers early concepts and hypotheses to contemporary approaches to enhancing the impact of research on policy and on services. I used Sandra’s book in a recent Open Access book chapter as part of the literature review (why do it myself when she has already done it for me). In that chapter, my co-authors Krista Jensen (@atomickitty) and Gary Myers (@KMbeing) and I articulated three take home lessons from the literature (there are more, but these were the three important to us at the time):
- KMb is a social process
- Efforts to enhance KMb need to be interactive and focus on the relationships between researchers and decision makers
- KMb happens at the level of the individual and is only beginning to emerge at the organization and the system/sectoral level
Even now, six years later KMb is still only emerging at institutional and systems levels. This underscores the currency of Using Evidence.
All that to say, if you haven’t read the book do so. It’s 33 pages of references means you don’t have to go anywhere else to find relevant literature up to 2007. It is foundational for our work. You can even get the book on Amazon.
I shared this picture with Sandra with whom I collaborated on a paper earlier this year. Thanks to our co-author Sarah Morton (@CRFRtweets) for writing about our article.
So let us know… how are you Using Evidence?
David Phipps, RIR-York
Sandra Nutley has written and will continue to write seminal works on research use. Read her articles and her books but also attend a presentation she makes because it is there that she distills her many words into just a few. And she makes them all count.
Sandra Nutley a écrit et continue d’écrire des travaux de référence sur l’utilisation de la recherche. Ne manquez pas de lire ses articles et ses livres, mais surtout, ne perdez pas l’occasion d’assister à ses présentations. C’est à ces occasions qu’elle synthétise sa pensée complexe en quelques mots, chacun d’un vaut son pesant d’or.
I have had the pleasure of hearing Sandra Nutley speak on numerous occasions in the UK and in Canada. I have read nine of her papers, working papers and even a forthcoming book chapter. Of course, I have read her book, Using Evidence that she wrote in 2007 with Huw Davies and Isobel Davies. In fact I have purchased over 30 copies of her book since it has been published using them in workshops and meetings.
Her writing is on the must read list for all knowledge brokers. Even though her writing is fairly accessible, Sandra writes for academics not for practitioners because Sandra is an academic. That’s where going to hear her speak is a wonderful complement to reading her scholarship. Most recently I shared the stage with Sandra at the 10th Anniversary conference of the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh. Sandra presented straight forward advice that was accessible to scholars, practitioners and partners from the policy and community sectors. She presented seven lessons for those seeking to enhance the use of academic research by decision makers. Thank you to Sandra for permission to reprint these which we reproduce with reflections on our knowledge mobilization practice at RIR-York.
|Set realistic ambitions and expectations about research use
||York’s KMb Unit promises to use best efforts to connect researchers to decision maker partners. We do not promise to deliver the best evidence to inform decisions. That is up to the collaboration.
|Improve supply of relevant, accessible and credible evidence, but don’t stop there
||York translates academic articles into ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries and publishes these in an on line searchable database. These serve as a starting point for knowledge brokering, they are not an end in themselves.
|Shape as well as respond to the demand for evidence in policy and practice settings (consider working with advocacy organizations)
||We work closely with the United Way of York Region to build community capacity for engaging in research and create a culture of collaboration between the university and community partners.
|Develop multifaceted knowledge exchange strategies, more than just packaging and knowledge translation (players and processes are more important than the products)
||As above, ResearchSnapshots are only the starting point for knowledge brokering. York’s KMb Unit then uses user pull (research translation help desk, Lunch & Learn), knowledge exchange (KM in AM, Research Forums) and co-production (interns, social media) methods to support the co-production of knowledge by researchers and their decision maker partners.
|Recognize the role of dedicated knowledge broker organizations and networks
||Together with York, our RIR partners (Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, Université du Québec à Montréal, U. Guelph, U. Saskatchewan, U. Victoria) have invested in an institutional capacity for KMb services.
|Target multiple voices to increase opportunities for evidence to be part of the policy discourse
||York’s KMb practice routinely engages the community sector, Regional and municipal agencies, provincial ministries and the hospital sector in conversations with university researchers and students. We are considering how best to include colleges and the private sector in the conversations.
|Evaluate knowledge exchange strategies to improve research use and learn from this
||We did a formal evaluation of the KMb Unit in 2009/2010. We posted the formal evaluation and our response on Mobilize This! and we published a peer reviewed journal article. Our KMb practice is participatory and self reflective, embedding learning as we go.
Sandra summarized her research knowledge in straight forward practice relevant advice presented in clear, concise language (well, “policy discourse” might not be clear language). Thank you Sandra for practicing what you preach and for helping us reflect on our own knowledge brokering practice.