Look out ResearchImpact…here comes Africa / Attention, RIR… l’Afrique entre en scène!

David Phipps, RIR-York

Is it knowledge mobilization? Is it Research Uptake Management? If it walks like a broker and acts like a broker it probably is a broker. And some African universities are brokering to the mutual benefit of communities and universities.

S’agit-il de mobilisation des connaissancesou de capacité d’exploitation de la recherche?Si cette personne marche comme un courtier et se conduit comme un courtier, on ne risque pas grand-chose à l’appeler courtier!Certaines universités africaines font du courtage au profit mutuel des communautés et des universités.

INORMS is the International Network of Research Management Societies. Many countries have associations of professionals that help university researchers find and spend their research funding. In Canada this is the CAURA, the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators. Some universities in Canada, like those in the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) network, are helping their researchers by investing services that connect research to society. We call this anything from knowledge mobilization to community engagement to knowledge translation.

Well there’s another term that is new to Canada but is commonly used in African universities: research uptake which is the act of research being taken up and used by communities. Research uptake management is therefore the professional services provided by universities to support research uptake.

DRUSSA is Development Research Uptake for Sub Saharan Africa, a network of 24 African universities who are funded by United Kingdom Department for International DRUSSA logoDevelopment (DFID) and supported by the Association of Commonwealth Universities to build capacity among research service providers to help connect research to community partners. While there are lots of discipline specific research networks that strive to create social and economic benefits from university research DRUSSA and RIR are networks of universities who are focused on the practice of knowledge mobilization/research uptake at the institutional level. The only other one I know is the Mid-west Knowledge Mobilization Network. MKMN has its origins in education but now strives to build capacity for knowledge mobilization across disciplines.

Because of this synergy between RIR and DRUSSA, I have had the pleasure of participating as a member of the Leaders Network for the DRUSSA program. This has mostly involved commenting on curriculum (yes, they have developed a curriculum for to build capacity for research uptake managers!) but I was invited to INORMS to facilitate a workshop for delegates that included DRUSSA representatives. See the workshop agenda for more information on this session.

DRUSSA workshop 140410There were over 40 participants from 23 countries including countries from Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Oceania/Australasia. What I found most interesting were the examples presented by the African universities. Many were around local agriculture and local poverty reduction such as the Community Integrated Rural Development Project (CIRDP) implemented among rural women in Ile-Ogbo, Osun State, Nigeria with University of Ibadan.

The key to many of these projects that I saw was the local element. I got the impression that these universities had developed close ties with their local communities. This is the feeling I get in the one university-one town model like in Lakehead/ThunderBay or Brock/St Catherine’s. These universities are naturally closely interwoven with the local cultural, social and economic fabric of their towns. Knowledge mobilization comes naturally to them.

Now imagine the situation where a university and a local community have developed a shared desire for knowledge mobilization/research uptake. And then layer on that a multi-year funded project with two critical components: 1) training and networking to build capacity for professionalization of research uptake management; and 2) leaders at each institution investing resources (funding, space, staff time) to support research uptake management. That is a recipe for success.

In Canada we have elements of these but we lack the multi-year funding to build capacity and provide incentives for institutional leaders to invest. Many universities have examples of successful knowledge mobilization and engaged scholarship but they are research/partner driven, often not supported by institutional capacity. The RIR universities are building institutional capacity but without incentives that come with external funding. Canada needs funding equivalent to the DRUSSA program to create a pan-Canadian capacity for knowledge mobilization. From 1995-2009, the tri-council IPM program funded the growth of Canada’s university technology commercialization sector. We need a similar program to build capacity for knowledge mobilization

It is working for African universities. Indeed African universities in the DRUSSA network are poised to become global leaders in research uptake management because of their local culture, their institutional leadership and the DFID funding and support from the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

But the question remains. Is it knowledge mobilization or research uptake? The answer is: yes.

Thanks to Christine Trauttsmandorff (@ChristineTrautt), SSHRC, for discussions at INORMS that contributed to this post.

DRUSSA workshop

 

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Practicing the Fine Art of Doing Nothing: A Knowledge Mobilizer’s Introduction to Open Space Facilitation / L’art subtil de ne rien faire : L’animation d’un forum ouvert expliquée par une courtière de connaissances

Lindsey Thomson, RIR-Guelph

Lindsey Thomson, Community Engaged Learning Manager at the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, University of Guelph, reflects on Open Space facilitation and knowledge mobilization.

Lindsey Thomson, responsable de l’apprentissage tourné vers la communauté à l’Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship de l’Université de Guelph, offre des pistes de réflexion sur l’animation d’un forum ouvert et la mobilisation des connaissances. 

Lindsey ThomsonBeing relatively new to the role of knowledge brokering and mobilization, I am often on the lookout for new skills and practices to enhance knowledge flows and the brokering of relationships – in my case, in the world of university-community collaborations in research at the University of Guelph.

Over the previous 8 years I have been fortunate enough to work my way up through school to achieve (and survive) a graduate level education which, not surprisingly, included multiple thesis projects, more course work and community research experience than I would have ever thought I could handle at one time, and eventually beginning my career in program evaluation. I believed that there was no way these experiences could not have prepared me well for my current career in knowledge mobilization. I believed that intervening with the major pieces of knowledge and skills I had acquired over the years was always necessary to facilitate successful partnerships in research. Much to my surprise, one Open Space Facilitation workshop I attended this month has led me to seriously reconsider this thought and instead feel that mastering the fine art of doing nothing at the right time and in the right place can sometimes be just as (if not more) valuable as jumping in and facilitating the heck out of a situation.

Okay, wait. So, after all of these years of education and training in individual and community-level interventions for the betterment of society and quality of life, I can effectively (and perhaps MORE effectively) facilitate community action and change by… doing… nothing? WOW.

Now, this was my initial reaction to the content of the workshop. Luckily, the story does not stop there and there is much more to ‘doing nothing’ as a facilitator at an Open Space event than one would initially assume.

Open Space Technology was born out of creator Harrison Owen’s observation that the most ‘useful’ part of conferences were often the coffee breaks. His goal with open space was to foster this same level of energy and self-organization of people and make this into an event in itself through meeting structures that encourage a more horizontal organization of people and their ideas (e.g. sitting in a circle, giving everyone the opportunity to post session topics, democratic prioritization of next steps, etc.). Rather than sending in a professional facilitator to lead discussions or spending hours upon hours devising a conference program, Owen instead decided that the full range of stakeholders in attendance should be responsible for setting their own agenda for the day (or multiple days). Situations that lend themselves well to Open Space Technology include a diverse group of participants who must deal with a complex issue for which no one has a single, clear answer.

The principles of open space technology are simple:

1. Whoever comes are the right people

2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.

3. When it starts is the right time

4. When it’s over it’s over

Informing the flow of the meeting and conduct of participants is also The Law of Two Feet: If you find yourself in a situation where you are not contributing or learning, move somewhere where you can.

Learning about Open Space has not prompted me to discount the learnings I have been privileged enough and worked hard (oh so very hard!) to accumulate over the years – it has simply sparked an important moment of questioning of some of the fundamental assumptions about what it has come to mean for me to be an effective social worker, facilitator, community researcher, and knowledge mobilizer.

The idea of ‘holding space’ and its contrast with more traditional ideas of facilitation was the big ‘take home’ message for me. To ‘hold space’ is to engage a leadership style that feels unfamiliar and is more concerned with being rather than doing. To ‘hold space’ is to be present in a fully authentic manner and to go let go of any attachment you may have to a certain set of outcomes for the meeting. In Open Space, knowledge mobilization is less about an innate urge innate urge to intervene and occupy a more traditional leadership role and instead is very much about the creation of important safe and open spaces for knowledge sharing, with the utmost trust in attendees to self-organize and to effectively and efficiently address issues most important to them.

As a knowledge mobilizer and broker it now feels very worthwhile, freeing, and advantageous to ‘hold space’ in which university-community collaborations can be shaped by those most impacted by their content and function. I look forward to incorporating the fine art of doing nothing into my current and future work as a knowledge mobilizer!

Sources:

Owen, H. 2008. Open space technology: A user’s guide (3rd Edition). Berrett-Koehler: San Francisco.

Corrigan,  C. (n. d.). Open space technology. Retrieved from www.grunt.ca/engage/assets/OST.pdf.

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 http://bit.ly/15yaBES 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 http://bit.ly/1fjASJn or contact Krista Jensen, KMb Officer, at kejensen@yorku.ca or 416-736-2100 ext 88847

The International School of Research Impact Assessment, Barcelona, September 15-19 / The International School of Research Impact Assessment, Barcelone, du 15 au 19 septembre

The International School of Research Impact Assessment will be held in Barcelona, Spain, on September 15-19, 2013. Kathryn Graham, a co-organizer of the five day school, shares some information about this exciting event in this guest post.

La première rencontre de « l’École internationale d’évaluation de l’impact de la recherche » a eu lieu à Barcelone, en Espagne, du 15 au 19 septembre 2013. Notre blogueuse invitée, Kathryn Graham, coorganisatrice de l’événement, nous renseigne ici sur cet atelier de cinq jours qui s’est avéré très stimulant.

There’s an increasing demand from governments and funding agencies to not only demonstrate the impact of their research investments but to optimize or get the most value out of those investments, particularly when taxpayer dollars are involved. This demand, in turn, requires skilled people to assess the impact or returns on investment.

Picture of a cartoon man scratching his head with a question mark appearing above his headOften, beleaguered research and program managers are the ones tasked to assess these impacts. But it’s a case of the demand for impact assessment outstripping the capacity for delivery. And there’s no formal school for this kind of training in the traditional academic setting.

This need was the inspiration for the creation of the first International School of Research Impact Assessment. The School will build capacity by teaching and equipping program, research and evaluation managers to deliver on the demand. It will provide the best advice, evidence and tools to assess the returns of investment, aka impact. The school is unique because it is international, practical (participants will walk away with a plan), broad in approach, high quality (roster of international experts as speakers and teachers), and a focus on impact. Although the focus will be on biomedicine, the knowledge gained will be applicable to other disciplines. Participants will come in with the needs of their own programs, which will span research activity across fields and sectors, and emerge with plans tailored to help their own organizations.

So who are we hoping will attend? All those who work in knowledge translation and program management in research and development for government, research funding organizations, academia, not-for-profits, industry or health industry.

Logo for The International School on Research Impact AssessmentAnd what can participants hope to gain? The goal of the curriculum is for participants to gain a broad knowledge of the “science of science”; develop and enhance skills for the planning and development of assessment studies, and understand how best to report and implement research impact assessments. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to network and exchange best practices with peers from around the world.

We encourage anyone struggling or succeeding in the area of research impact assessment to apply by May 31. And for more information on how the five days will unfold, please see the Preliminary Programme.

See you in Spain!

Kathryn Graham, PhD,  Co-organizer

Jonathan Grant, PhD,  Scientific Director

Paula Adams, PhD,  Coordinating Director

2013 York KMb Learning Events / Les activités d’apprentissage offertes par York MdC en 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 Winter 2013, the KMb Unit at York will be offering the following learning sessions:

LearnSocial Media 101 – This lunch hour session will provide an overview of social media tools and their relevance to collaborative research projects.  January 16th 12:00-1:00 York Lanes 280A; March 4th 12:00-1:00 York Lanes 280A

Social Media 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.   March 13th 1:30-4:00 York Lanes 280A

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.  February 20th 9:30-12:00 York Lanes 280A; April 18th 9:30-12:00 York Lanes 280A

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. February 12th 1:30-4:00 York Research Tower 519

O3 – O3 is an online collaborative tool for available free to researchers, which can facilitate effective and efficient collaboration (without flooding your email inbox!)  April 25th 9:30-12:00 York Lanes 280A

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. January 28th 9:30-12:00 York Lanes 280A; March 26th 1:30-4:00 York Lanes 280A

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. April 2nd 1:30-4:00 York Lanes 280A

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. April 24th 9:30-12:00 York Lanes 280A

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.  February 7th 9:30-12:00 York Research Tower 519

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. April 30th 1:30-4:00 York Lanes 280A

Clear Language Writing and Design – Sessions designed to introduce the principles and practical tips on writing for the reader, including diverse audiences.  May 13th 1:00-4:00 York Lanes 280A

 

To register for any of the sessions, please visit http://bit.ly/KMbYorkLearning or contact Krista Jensen, KMb Officer, at kejensen@yorku.ca or ext 88847

2012 York KMb Learning Events / Les activités d’apprentissage offertes par York MdC en 2012

Michael Johnny, RIR, YorkU

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 the past five years, York’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit has focused our KMb activities on service and awareness raising for faculty, graduate students and external organizations and leaders who are seeking to engage in KMb.  Since 2006, York KMb has led 186 information sessions for community organizations and has supported 142 graduate students to meaningfully engage in KMb activity.  While we’re proud of our efforts to raise awareness of the opportunity and importance of knowledge mobilization, two recent developments that have supported an expansion of our capacity building initiatives: securing a community-based knowledge broker, and second, a mandate from federal research granting councils to include a knowledge mobilization strategy on funding applications.

The unique role of a community-based knowledge broker supporting York KMb has enabled our unit capacity to address some of the emerging issues in knowledge mobilization that are centred within York University.  With an increasing demand for engaging York researchers in collaborative project opportunities, our service unit saw a need to support learning opportunities here at York to help expand the capacity of university researchers who have interests in collaborative research, or, in mobilizing their existing research to help inform public policy and/or professional practice.

Given this, we’re pleased to announce the release of a series of learning events that help university researchers and administrators learn tools and strategies to engage in KMb within research projects. This series will include sessions on clear language writing and design, social media (specifically twitter, blogging and collaborative technologies) and developing strategies in KMb. Sessions have been developed that provide one hour information sessions or half-day hands-on workshops on several aspects of KMb.

Feedback has been positive and we’re excited to continue to roll out learning sessions throughout the calendar year.  Dr. Christopher Innes, Canada Research Chair and Distinguished Research Professor within the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (English) commented, “This is great.  Sessions like this are important for York researchers to strengthen their research projects with plans for Knowledge Mobilization that are recognized by research funding councils.  The KMb Strategy Building session provided important tools to assist me and my project team”.

Upcoming events include KMb 101 (February 13), Clear Language Writing and Design (February 27), O3 (March 6) and WordPress (April 3). The full calendar of events is available here.

In addition to building capacity on campus, York has been asked to provide a KMb webinar to the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators.  This national webinar will help raise awareness of the emerging role of KMb for university researchers and their research partners.  The webinar will be help on February 14 at 1:00 EST.  Information about registration can be found here.