How do you do stakeholder engagement to inform research? SE Guide developed by KT Core

by: Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, Kids Brain Health Network (formerly NeuroDevNet)

The Kids Brain Health Network (formerly NeuroDevNet) has focused efforts on stakeholder engagement for informing its future directions.  To aid in the process, the KT Core at York University has developed a Stakeholder Engagement Guide of Guides which is the third in the series (the first was the Social Media Guide of Guides, second was the KT Planning Guide of Guides).

Someone recently asked me, how can you do integrated Knowledge Translation (iKT)? First, we must understand iKT, it “is about:

  • Bringing the creators and users of knowledge together for meaningful engagement;
  • Making users aware of research evidence AND researchers aware of information needs of society;
  • Co-producing knowledge, to increase relevance and likelihood of application of findings.

Knowledge users are:

  • Individuals likely to be able to use research findings to make informed decisions about health policies and practices
  • Policy/decision-makers, clinicians, health professionals, caregivers, patients, industry, not-for-profit, etc.”

CIHR goes on to say that organizations can enable iKT by doing the following:

– use clear and consistent terminology among partners and knowledge users

– plan for increased need for flexibility/time for knowledge user involvement

– take a knowledge-user perspective in designing programs/initiatives, evaluating applications, etc.

– facilitate connections between researchers and knowledge users such as workshops, or online portals

– support capacity building through presentations, creation/sharing of resources

– incorporate iKT into operational templates/frameworks.

If we look at the statement “take a knowledge-user perspective in designing programs…” it can be interpreted to mean that iKT can happen without stakeholder engagement; in this case, the organization would step into their knowledge-user’s shoes, but without asking them directly what they need. However, this does not optimize the iKT approach. In order to maximize the benefit to society, or ‘impact’ of your work, it is necessary to engage with your stakeholders.

There are several methods for engaging with your stakeholders to inform your various activities including research and KT. This blog post introduces the new Stakeholder Engagement Guide of Guides created by the KT Core. The Guide begins with a chart that identifies the range of stakeholder engagement methods based on your goal.  There are three categories: “to tell” (the goal is mainly on providing information), “to tell and listen” (the goal is a mixture of providing information and asking questions of stakeholders/encouraging discussion), and “to listen” (the goal is to ask questions of stakeholders and receive their input either verbally or in written format).  The Guide also contains an annotated bibliography of resources for researchers to be able to engage their stakeholders (whoever is directly or indirectly affected by their work such as: patients, clients, policymakers, frontline workers, etc.) in their projects in a number of ways.

Most of the resources within the SE Guide of Guides recommend similar core elements:

1) Clearly define your goal/craft a purpose statement. Why do you need to engage with your stakeholders? Are you aiming to refine the design of a new research project to more accurately respond to the needs of stakeholders, or are you at the end of a research project and would like to elicit the preferences of your knowledge users for what KT products they can use (e.g. infographic or clear language summary?).

2) State your objectives. What is it exactly, that you would like to accomplish from this activity? The objectives should help you achieve your goal.

3) Map your stakeholders. Who do you need to invite? How will they help you accomplish your goal/objectives?

4) Choose the stakeholder engagement method you will use. Sometimes a survey is good enough, but other times you may need deep discussion and analysis of issues from your stakeholders.  The budget you have allocated for stakeholder engagement will also determine what you can do.

5) Evaluate. Did it work? Did you accomplish your goal/objectives?  Think about what else you want to know. You may also wish to ask a question about preferences for ongoing communication afterwards.

Although stakeholder engagement *isn’t* a research project per se, it should be approached with the same mindset you would apply to a research project in the sense that the method, activities, and questions for your stakeholders that you choose depends on what your goal and objectives are. To do it right is important for building and maintaining meaningful relationships with stakeholders.  By taking the time to plan appropriately, and make sure you are making the best use of everyone’s time, it shows respect to your knowledge users and goes a long way towards building good relationships.  From an iKT perspective, showing stakeholders you have listened to what they have said, and responding to their feedback appropriately through modifications to your work, maximizes the potential uptake and implementation of your work.  This, in turn, will also have impact beyond the individual stakeholders you involved in your specific activities, and broaden the benefit of your work to society.

If you are a KBHN (NeuroDevNet) researcher or trainee and would like help planning your stakeholder engagement activities, please do not hesitate to contact the KT Core.

Stakeholder Engagement for Research Uptake / La participation des intervenants dans l’exploitation de la recherche

This week’s guest post comes from York University’s ResearchImpact Blog, MobilizeThis! It was first published on April 22, 2016 and is reposted here with permission. 

Source: Stakeholder Engagement for Research Uptake / La participation des intervenants dans l’exploitation de la recherche

by: David Phipps, KT Lead, NeuroDevNet

Last updated in 2013 (so not new, but new to me), DFID UK has produced a guide to aid in research uptake. This guide helps researchers work with stakeholders to maximize the opportunities for research to be taken up and used by organizations making new products, developing policies and/or delivering services. Using this guide will help facilitate stakeholder engagement to enable research uptake.

Le ministère du Développement international du Royaume-Uni, le DFID, a mis à jour en 2013 (pas franchement nouveau, mais pour moi, oui) un guide pour faciliter l’exploitation des travaux de recherche. Ce guide aide les chercheurs à collaborer avec les intervenants, dans le but de maximiser les occasions d’utiliser la recherche dans la fabrication de nouveaux produits, l’élaboration de politiques ou la prestation de services. Grâce à ce guide, on aura plus de facilité à convaincre les intervenants d’exploiter activement les résultats de la recherche.

We all know (or we all should know) it is important to engage end users (especially lived experience) upstream in the research program. How else do you know your research is going to help meet the needs of people who can benefit from the policies, products and services that are enabled by your research?

The private sector calls this consumer driven design.

Communicators always advocate knowing your audience.

Knowledge mobilizers call this stakeholder engagement.

There is literature on stakeholder engagement (see KMb journal club post). There are methods like the policy dialogue (see another KMb journal club post). Jonathan Weiss (CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research, York University) embeds stakeholder engagement in the work of his Chair and reports annually on his efforts (see his 2014 Annual Report as an example).

But where is the help to help the rest of us?

A researcher in the NeuroDevNet network recently forwarded a guide for research uptake. Research uptake is that moment when a non-academic research partner seeks to take the results of the research in house to inform decisions about their own policies, products and services. This is a critical step in mediating the pathway from research to impact. And effective stakeholder engagement can facilitate this moment of uptake.

Thanks to DFID (UK Department for International Development) this guide book and checklist (yes, there is even a checklist!) are posted at:

DFID Research_uptake_guidance figure

As instructed by this guide, effective stakeholder engagement has four stages each with three or four activities described in each stage:

  1. Stakeholder engagement: working through informal networks and mapping out and connecting with relevant stakeholders
  1. Capacity building: not all non-academic research partners have the capacity to take up research evidence. Building capacity for end user uptake is an important element…but is this the job of the researcher or possibly for allied intermediary organizations?
  1. Communicating: synthesizing results, planning communications and publishing research results in accessible formats are all important to facilitate research uptake.
  1. Monitoring and Evaluation: create a logic model including indicators to measure progress at each stage, gather data and feedback results into your research and research uptake processes.

DFID provides a note on advocacy and influencing decisions in partner organizations. DFID “encourages programs to foster evidence informed discussions of research evidence and to encourage decision makers to make use of the full range if research evidence on a given topic. However, research programs should not be lobbying for particular policy changes based on their research results.”

Really? I believe research institutions need to strive for neutrality but researchers themselves are often highly invested in a particular policy position. Why else do media channels ask academic researchers to comment on government positions? While research methods strive to remove bias from the evidence, that unbiased evidence is not necessarily value free from the researcher’s perspective.

And a note to ResearchImpact-Réseau Impact Recherche universities and other institutions with a knowledge mobilization mandate…. we don’t have discipline specific stakeholders but we do have institutional stakeholders such as United Way, community associations, municipal and provincial partners, Chambers of Commerce, etc. These institutional stakeholders should be part of our own stakeholder engagement efforts.

Thanks to Anneliese Poetz, Manager KT Core, NeuroDevNet for passing this along and for writing about her own tips for stakeholder engagement on the NeuroDevNet Blog, KT Core-ner.



What do the acronyms TEDx, ASD and iKT have in common?


Source: What do the acronyms TEDx, ASD and iKT have in common?

This week’s guest post comes from the ASD Mental Health site, Dr. Jonathan Weiss’ Blog. It was first published on April 13, 2016 and is reposted here with permission. 

by Drs. Jonathan Lai & Jonathan Weiss

On Saturday May 28th, the Chair in ASD Treatment and Care Research[1] will be hosting Spectrum, a TEDxYorkUSalon focussing on concerns relevant to transition-age youth and to adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

When the Chair was first launched, we asked stakeholders (e.g. people with ASD, clinicians, family members, policymakers, and researchers) how they wanted to be engaged with, both in terms of what we’re doing, and what was going on in the Canadian field of autism research. The message was clear: we need more than one approach, for multiple types of audiences, including those we already knew as well as those in the autism community we had not yet reached. So how best to develop a dynamic, accessible, and efficient way of exchanging knowledge about autism across so many different perspectives? This is where TEDx comes in.

Our upcoming event is part of our strategy of innovative knowledge mobilization and stakeholder engagement. Since knowledge translation is a learning process among stakeholders with different perspectives and expertise, we have involved people with ASD, parents, researchers, educators, policy makers, and service providers as presenters. The presenters will give short 8-minute talks which will be placed online following the event and made freely accessible to the public.

The well-known and appreciated TED format is all about developing, refining, and sharing ideas in an entertaining way, both for those present in the physical audience, as well as those in a virtual audience who can access the talks worldwide. It’s a format, and a brand, that has tremendous recognition and a demonstrated ability to break down complex knowledge into a format that can appeal to a wide range of audiences: it’s open to everyone. Since our goal is share the knowledge that’s been generated in the Canadian autism community openly, we are creating broadly appealing content that will be available through the TEDx in-person and online platforms. We believe it will be an effective method to bring multiple perspectives together and listen to one another.

How can you plan your own TEDx event?

tedx notepadA TEDx event is not an easy thing to coordinate or one that can be developed in only a few months time. You will need dedicated personnel; we have one person (JL) who is dedicated to coordinating all aspects of the day over a 12 month period, for about one day a week.  Our timeline was as follows, based on our capacity:

Timeline (# months in advance of event date) Task to be completed
10 months Read TEDx guidelines, craft vision and goals
9 months Find a venue and date, have an budget
8 months Curate speakers, identify sponsors and partners
7 months Construct a program (running order)
6 months Form your teams (A/V, volunteers)
5 months Coach speakers (monthly emails, one-on-one sessions)
5 months Build a website (marketing)
2 month Promote to your audience (marketing)

First, craft your vision and goals (10 months ahead of time). It’s important to think through and articulate your vision (how would you define success?) and then identify how you can evaluate whether and to what extent you achieved your goals. Our vision and goals were to: 1) make topics of ASD research accessible, 2) build enthusiasm about research and 3) expand reach globally to people living with ASD, students and service providers. This shaped the types of questions we asked on our evaluation forms. For example, we hope that the TEDxYorkUSalon event will lead to greater excitement, optimism and familiarity about Canadian research in ASD and with regard to how people view ASD more generally. We ask questions about these topics in an optional questionnaire when they register, and will do so again after the event, to measure individual change.

tedx organizer's manualAs you begin this goal setting and visioning process, read the guidelines to know what goals are feasible. The TEDx Organizer’s Manual had many helpful tips and a step-by-step guide on how to organize an event like this properly. Since this is our first time, we had a steep learning curve. There are various guidelines for the different types of events. TEDx licenses are given to people based on location (e.g. TEDxNewYork, TEDxToyko, TEDxUniversityofLeeds, TEDxYorkU) and there are different guidelines for each event type with respect to: the number of attendees, types of sponsorships, branding of the event etc. We decided to run a Salon event under TEDxYorkU – a smaller event run under approved TEDx license holders because it allows us to explore a more specific topic rather than a general theme. Your vision and goals must align with the type of event – as that determines the structure that enables what you can do.

Ultimately it’s crucial to stick with TED’s strictly prescribed format, which can be difficult for us researchers who are used to having full control over the design and execution of our own events. By choosing to go with the TEDx format, it meant letting go of some of that control. We learned that we had to be flexible – working with a brand with licensing guidelines, we had to adapt each time we were constrained by requirements. For instance, we had to ensure the number of presenters and attendees were approved and that sponsors were not related / perceived to influence/bias talk content. Further, we had to figure out how to brand the event properly – the Event webpage couldn’t be associated with our research brand (Chair website, ASDMentalHealth Blog, or even York University). We would encourage on-going communication within your team and those involved so everyone is on the same page.

Tedx audienceLooking for an appropriate venue, we kept in mind not only costs but accessibility for families – as well as technical requirements for our event (e.g. lighting, staging). With the depth and breadth of enthusiastic, passionate Canadian researchers, advocates and parents available, we had no difficulty finding individuals who could fit the TED requirements. Our speakers are up for the challenge, currently being coached to chiselling their passion, knowledge and experience into a tight 8 minutes. Similarly, finding partners and sponsors for the event was not a big challenge. Many organizations that shared the same vision of KT and gladly supported us, including the Faculty of Health at York University, NeuroDevNet, Kerry’s Place, Geneva Centre for Autism, Sinneave Family Foundation, and the Ontario Brain Institute.

We worked with an expert at York University who has successfully run TEDxYorkU over the last few years (Thanks Ross!), building on his success and his wisdom about what’s required in terms of advising speakers, creating an exciting schedule, space and technological issues. NeuroDevNet’s KT Core will be in attendance to engage with stakeholders and capture this engagement on video. Video taping of individual speakers is also being arranged through York University’s Learning Technology Services video team, who have had experience working with TEDxYorkU in the past and were familiar with TEDx guidelines.

Overall, familiarity with TEDx guidelines, building a team (e.g. with sponsors, speakers, technical support) and having consistent communication with those involved within is important to create a successful event. The exchange of ideas and having different perspectives (not just researchers) is, after all, the point of doing iKT!

For more information about this event, and how to register, please visit: or contact Dr. Jonathan Weiss ( or Dr. Jonathan Lai ( for details.

[1] The Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatment and Care Research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada, the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, Health Canada, NeuroDevNet and the Sinneave Family Foundation. Additional support from York University and ORION’s O3 Collaboration.

Seeing the diamond in the rough: “Boaty McBoatface” a KT gem?

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

Boaty McBoatfaceThis week, a new $400 million research vessel made national headlines after asking for public input to name it.  The runaway #1 name was “Boaty McBoatface” and was far from the more serious meaningful suggestions the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) had hoped for.  The news reported that the NERC still has the right to decide what to name it – as a KT professional, I am hoping they keep Boaty McBoatface if not for any other reason but to maximize the potential for their KT. [update: as of April 18, 2016 the science minister, Jo Johnson reports te government wants a name that ‘fits the mission’]

I understand the argument not to keep the name: researchers are concerned that their rigorous and important work may not be viewed as credible if the vessel it is carried out with is donned with a name that started out as a joke.  I believe this is a valid concern, however, I would like to offer a different perspective.  As a KT professional, I am aware that KT-conscious researchers, as individuals and, as part of research networks and organizations, are constantly seeking for a way to raise awareness about their work, to create “sticky messages” that audiences will remember.  Indeed, the effectiveness of any KT strategy begins with the ability to raise awareness about the project, the findings, the usefulness and potential application of the work.  While awareness does not guarantee uptake and implementation, if people don’t know about the research, they can’t even consider using it.

Awareness-raising for research projects typically aims to direct attention toward the evidence through dissemination activities such as: conferences, websites, social media.  An integrated knowledge translation approach is based on relationship-building to both inform the research in progress as well as act as a spokesperson to spread the research findings (and hopefully facilitate their uptake and implementation of evidence-informed recommendations into practice and policy).  Researchers, research networks, and organizations promoting evidence-informed decision-making sometimes seek spokespersons who are more broadly recognizable, to be ‘champions’ such as well-known celebrities or athletes.  The reality is, it is very difficult to achieve the desired level of awareness or ‘reach’ of research findings that could maximize uptake and implementation. Capitalizing on the popularity of “Boaty McBoatface” can be an effective means to direct attention to the researchers’ social media channels, websites, for achieving broader awareness of the research evidence.

ECDC antibiotic awareness hedgehogOrganizations have recognized the power of social media and try to create content that will be shared, and go ‘viral’, with the end result being uptake and implementation of their messages.  There is a fine line between ‘gimmicky-ness’ that could reduce credibility and cause people to ignore CDC Zombie Apocalypseit, and something that can go viral while causing effective uptake of evidence-based messages. The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) created a hedgehog mascot to help convey messages about public health.  The United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) launched a “Zombie Apocalypse” twitter campaign that ended up being so successful it crashed their website from visitors who wanted the information on emergency preparedness.

The NERC’s “name our ship” website crashed this past weekend due to the amount of traffic.  I can only think of this kind of public attention as something positive (for their KT), in fact, it is a rare and unexpected gift to the ocean researchers at its helm.


Dr. Catherine Lebel's Stakeholder Consultation, Calgary, Alberta

How to plan and conduct an effective stakeholder consultation: 7 top tips (Part 1)

by: Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

I wanted to write about top tips for conducting a stakeholder consultation because it is so important to do it right in order to maximize your time and financial investment. The people in attendance are willing to give you the greatest gifts you could receive: their time and their wisdom. It is therefore your obligation to carefully construct the event. There have been other blogs written about stakeholder consultation, that you may also find useful, but I wanted to write about tips I have learned through my own experience.  With that, here are my top tips for conducting a stakeholder consultation to inform your research and KT:

start early

Start planning as early as possible

1) Start Early: You need to start planning at least 6-8 months in advance of the date you plan to hold your event. At this stage you should know: why you need to hold a stakeholder consultation including a general sketch of what you need to know from your stakeholders. Once you know this, you should also be able to roughly sketch out the categories and types of stakeholders you need to invite. Starting early is especially important if you plan to invite Chief Medical Officers of Health, as they need this much notice to be able to get it into their calendars.

2) Write a purpose statement: A purpose statement should be broad and should clearly establish the overarching goal of the meeting. Once you know (as in #1) why you need to hold a stakeholder consultation this will be relatively easy. The purpose statement quickly summarizes why you are holding the meeting, but should include information such as: i) what is the nature of the meeting (e.g. ‘…to provide a forum for information exchange and open discussion….’), ii) who will be attending the meeting (e.g. ‘…between public health practitioners and researchers…’), iii) what the outcome of the meeting is intended to be (e.g. ‘…how current knowledge on partner notification could be incorporated into practice and how knowledge gaps could be addressed’). In this way, it gives participants a quick overview of what the meeting will be about and why their input is important toward achieving the meeting’s outcome(s).

Here is an example of a purpose statement:

To provide a forum for information exchange and open discussion between public health practitioners and researchers on how current knowledge on partner notification could be incorporated into practice and how knowledge gaps could be addressed.

Clearly articulate purpose and objectives of the meeting

Clearly articulate purpose and objectives of the meeting

3) Clearly articulate the objectives of the meeting: The objectives should be clearly articulated, and should relate to but be more specific than the purpose statement. It is critical to do this, and early on in the process. The objectives represent the anchor to which the rest of the meeting will be tethered. In other words, the people you invite, the activities you do, the focus questions you ask, will all be informed by what you are trying to achieve. Sadly, I have observed all too often that this step is neglected in favour of brainstorming and deciding on activities which inevitably end up being a mish mash of disconnected “stuff” that rarely results in a useful set of outcomes.   Usually you would have at least 2-3 objectives for the meeting, but you could have up to around 6, 7 or even 8 depending on what you are trying to achieve and how long the meeting is. Here are example objectives that nest under the purpose statement example above:

  • Provide participants with an overview of [organization name/researcher or project team name(s)] partner notification project and findings to date
  • Provide participants with opportunities to exchange information and ideas on partner notification strategies that have been attempted in local public health jurisdictions
  • Identify ways to incorporate knowledge from research and local experience into policy and practice
  • Identify knowledge gaps related to partner notification and ways to address them
  • Identify a potential role and next steps for [organization/researcher or project team name(s)] to facilitate the improvement of partner notification programs in Canada


Linking documentation together makes your meeting stronger

Linking documentation together makes your meeting stronger

4) Link all of your documentation: all documents for the meeting including (but not limited to) the meeting agenda, invitation letters, consistent breakout group/report back forms, evaluation forms should repeat the purpose statement and objectives at the top. Before the event, it helps the meeting organizers and planners to ensure activities are aligned with the purpose and help to achieve the meeting’s objectives as these various documents are being drafted and reviewed. At the event, it shows your attendees that you respect their time by having prepared a seamless and well-organized meeting package (the final documents should also be formatted uniformly). It also helps to ground the meeting as it unfolds, and provides a visual reminder to facilitators and participants of the purpose in case the discussion(s) begin to veer off track. It is especially important to ask participants on the evaluation forms how well they believe the meeting achieved its objectives.

5) Draft an agenda before sending out invitations: your invitees will likely have to book time off work or otherwise rearrange their schedules to attend your meeting, so they need to be able to determine whether their attendance can be justified. In many cases they will need to show the agenda to their employer (which is one reason why it is important to state the purpose and objectives at the top of the agenda) in order to gain approval to take leave from the office to be able to attend.

6) Piggyback onto another event: a popular option for conducting a stakeholder consultation is to tack it onto another event such as a conference that you know there is a good chance your stakeholders will be attending. This greatly cuts down on transportation costs, because if you are paying for your participants’ travel expenses all you have to do is pay for an extra hotel night instead of paying for their airfare as well. The only tricky part is that if the conference is not being coordinated by your own organization it can be difficult to gain access to the attendee list. If you don’t know which of your stakeholders will be attending it can make it a little more difficult to extend invitations strategically. However, you can also target local stakeholders in the city where the event is taking place; if you reach out and ask those stakeholders to come to your consultation it doesn’t really matter if they are already attending the other event because there will be no airfare/travel costs for them to attend anyway (the only expense will be food but you would have to provide that anyway).

Have good food at your consultation with stakeholders

Have good food for your stakeholders

7) Have good food: it’s the least you can do to thank people for their attendance, and it makes the day that much more enjoyable for them. Plus, the benefit to you is that your attendees will be able to think/ provide better input for you if they have had enough (and good) food and coffee. I usually ask the venue caterers to leave the coffee/tea and food out (as opposed to coming and picking up the food right after lunch) so people can ‘graze’ if they get hungry or need to be caffeinated throughout the meeting.

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and would like advice on how to plan your stakeholder consultation (or other stakeholder engagement activities), contact the KT Core.

Who’s got the power? A critical consideration of citizen participation in research

by: Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

It is common for KT activities to be limited to dissemination of KT products such as research summaries, infographics or research reports/articles. Sometimes these products are created without consulting the stakeholders who represent the intended target audience, and what is typically measured and reported on is the numbers of these products distributed.  Dissemination is necessary, but usually not sufficient, to create impacts from research.

The two main approaches to Knowledge Translation are end-of-grant (dissemination) and integrated Knowledge Translation (stakeholder engagement/consultation). The evidence on successful KT has demonstrated that iKT approaches are more successful at creating impact. When I think about iKT I am reminded of the topic of my PhD dissertation which focused on a process analysis of a stakeholder consultation approach for informing government decision-making.  One of the frameworks I cited in my literature review was Arnstein’s (1969) ladder of citizen participation in community decision-making within the context of the ‘broader power structures in society’.  Arnstein’s (1969) ladder of citizen participation ranges from one extreme to the other, at one end citizens have all the power and at the other end they have no power at all.  Citizen power is sub-divided into “citizen control, delegated power, and partnership” (citizens have all/greater power) while tokenism is represented as “placation, consultation, informing” and non-participation in community decision-making is referred to as “therapy and manipulation” (non-participation, no power).

Figure 1. Arnstein's ladder of citizen participation

Figure 1. Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation

An iKT approach is important for maximizing the uptake and implementation of research, toward impact. Recently, I found myself wondering how Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation could map onto a research decision-making context.  For example, when a researcher takes an iKT approach to their work, they inform their research questions, methodology, KT products (type, key messages, delivery method, etc), workshops and other activities (toward moving their research findings into uptake and implementation) by using information about their stakeholders’ needs as a result of careful observation (of stakeholders as well as the current state of society, industry, government etc.) and listening to stakeholders.  However, as the subject matter and research process expert, the Principal Investigator/researcher (has to) use discretion in terms of how, where, and why stakeholder input contributes to the overall design and execution of their research (assuming stakeholders are non-researchers).  In this way, it is unrealistic to expect that citizens/stakeholders should be given complete control.  Even if stakeholders are researchers themselves, the Principal Investigator (PI) of the project has obligations (for example) to the funder of their research to reasonably deliver what was promised in their initial grant proposal.  In this way, the PI can be viewed as having more power than their stakeholders in terms of the research process.

However, in order for planned KT activities to result in successful uptake, implementation and impact of research, stakeholders need to feel that: they have been heard and their input is valued; their (information and other) needs are being met by the research project; the KT product(s) created will be useful/helpful to them and/or their clients.  In this way, stakeholders have potentially tremendous influence over the PI’s ability to achieve change through their research output(s). Persuading successful partnership engages stakeholders so that research can, should (and will, if possible given their organization’s capabilities) be used in practice and policy.  Often, they must surmount potential barriers such as stakeholders’ experiential (and other) knowledge, values and job descriptions as well as political and financial restrictions.

According to Arnstein’s ladder taking an integrated approach to KT helps to shift the power from researchers toward stakeholders, and into the “partnership” stage during which both stakeholders and researchers (PIs) redistribute power.  Stakeholders become more open to using research in practice and PIs become more able (through understanding stakeholder needs) to make the necessary adjustments to their research and KT approaches to enable uptake and implementation by these stakeholders.

It is reasonable then to say that effective, integrated KT takes place at the “partnership” level of Arnstein’s ladder.

Webinar on social media for knowledge mobilization/Knowledge Translation

by: Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

This past week on Wednesday January 27, 2016 NeuroDevNet’s KT Core hosted a one hour interactive webinar entitled “Social Media for Knowledge Mobilization” featuring KT Core Lead, Dr. David Phipps. David has been blogging since 2008 and is active on Twitter and LinkedIn as well (@researchimpact 6,950 followers, ResearchImpact Linked In group 550 members, Mobilize This! blog over 150,000 views from 149 countries).  This was an event offered to NeuroDevNet researchers and trainees, and drew 33 participants.  Topics covered included: the benefits of using social media, how to build a social media strategy, selecting which social media platforms to use, and how to name and design your profile.  The slides are available on the NeuroDevNet slideshare account:

For those who were unable to attend the live event, the recording is available on the NeuroDevNet YouTube Channel:

A link to the KT Core’s publication, the “Social Media Guide of Guides” was provided as a resource for those interested in learning more about how to use KT for dissemination and stakeholder engagement. The Social Media Guide of Guides is an annotated bibliography of the most relevant resources for researchers to learn how to use social media for professional purposes, and is arranged from beginner to advanced.

 The event evaluation (n=15) yielded very positive results. In sum:

-100% of respondents said they would use the knowledge they gained from the webinar

-On a scale from 0 (poor) -100 (Excellent), David was rated at an average of 93.3% as a presenter

-On a scale from 0 (poor) -100 (Excellent), David’s knowledge about the use of social media for knowledge translation was rated at an average of 94.07%

-Participants reported that on a scale of 0 (Not at all) -100 (A lot), their knowledge about the use of social media for KT has increased by an average of 70.27%

Participants said the best part of the webinar was:

“The interactive component (e.g. questions, polls)”

“David’s knowledge, presentation skills, and responses to questions”

“Providing the information online during the webinar but the file to download after to read further”

“Breaking down how to think of strategy and selecting the right tools to reach objectives”

“I found the entire presentation very helpful. I really benefitted from the portion on how to determine which social media avenues to pursue as well as how to increase traffic to your channel.”

When participants were asked about the things they learned in this webinar that they will apply/do, they said:

“Look at the guide of guides!”

“Streamline my use of social media for KT based on the suggestions.”

“Get on twitter. Make a plan.”

“Finding which channels have traffic and becoming active in the current conversation as opposed to waiting for people to find us.”

“Write a little more confidently on KT initiatives for funding applications.”

Requests for future webinar topics included (in no particular order):

– Intro to using twitter

– Specifics regarding research blogs, twitter, facebook page that is relevant to target audience including concrete examples of the use of some popular social media for dissemination

– Tips and tricks (e.g. optimal times during the day that you should post/tweet)

– Writing KT plans for grant applications: what to include and what to avoid

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and would like a consultation about the use of social media for knowledge mobilization/translation, or if you have a suggestion for a future webinar topic or tool (such as a guide) that we could create to help you in your work, please contact the KT Core.