Who is minding the “research to impact” shop?

by David Phipps, KT Lead, NeuroDevNet

In a recent knowledge mobilization journal club David Phipps (Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services at York University and KT Lead, NeuroDevNet) questioned, “Whose job is it to ensure research moves from creation to impact? The simple answer is no one. No one is minding the shop. Individuals are acting individually and not in a coordinated fashion.” No one except NCEs like NeuroDevNet.

LightBulb_DiscoveryThe role of a Network of Centres of Excellence is to “meet Canada’s needs to focus a critical mass of research resources on social and economic challenges, commercialize and apply more of its homegrown research breakthroughs, increase private-sector R&D, and train highly qualified people”. At NeuroDevNet we do this by focusing our research, training and knowledge translation efforts on three goals:

  1.  Earlier diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders
  2. Application of validated interventions for children with developmental disorders sooner
  3. Better supports for children with developmental disorders and their families

Research helps create new knowledge and new understanding in diagnostics, interventions and supports. It is the job of knowledge translation to help connect those researchers and that research to partners and receptors who can turn that research into new products, policies and services that then have an impact on the lives of children living with neurodevelopmental disorders and their children.

KTA framework for blogThere are many (MANY) frameworks and models for knowledge translation. A very popular framework is the knowledge to action (KTA) cycle adopted by CIHR as their framework for KT. This model has a knowledge creation/synthesis component and an implementation into action component. I recently reviewed a paper that asked if and how researchers are using the KTA Cycle.

The answer: not many and not completely.

Many researchers reference KTA but few actually implement it and none report using it in its entirety. In fact, it was never meant to be used from start to finish by a single investigator.

Really? As I asked in that journal club post, “Whose job is it to ensure research moves from creation to impact? The simple answer is no one. No one is minding the shop. Individuals are acting individually and not in a coordinated fashion.”

If no one is minding the shop no wonder it can take a reported average of 17 years for health research to move into clinical practice.

NCEs like NeuroDevNet are accelerating both discovery and application of research by operating in a coordinated fashion. In addition to coordinating research and training NeuroDevNet also provides professional KT services across the network and embeds KT as a partner in projects that have a high potential to create impacts on policies, products and services. In this manner NeuroDevNet KT supports the application of research and facilitates its transition towards impact.

NeuroDevNet is minding the neurodevelopmental shop. And the KT Core is maximizing the impact of research on the lives of children living with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Videos as Knowledge Translation products

By Anneliese Poetz, Manager, KT Core

Videos are becoming a popular way to communicate information, especially research findings. But, not all videos can be considered “KT”. NeuroDevNet’s KT Core has produced several videos: common characteristics of that make them “KT videos” include:

  1. The researcher(s) talking about their research (findings) and intended or actual impact(s)
  2. The voices of partner(s) and/or participants and/or receptors who provide testimonials about the uptake, implementation and/or impact(s) of either i) participating in the research, or ii) new knowledge derived from the research
  3. References on-screen (where available and appropriate) of peer-reviewed publications from the research
  4. An overall narrative or ‘story’ that is knowledge-translation based, for example: explaining a technology that is under research and development (e.g. Exergame), research findings (such as gains in school performance as a result of using Caribbean Quest game), describing a process for maximizing the uptake of research into policy/practice (e.g. Jonathan Weiss’ annual stakeholder consultation events to inform his research). It is not a training video for the purpose of instructing trainees on how to conduct experiments.


Most of NeuroDevNet’s KT videos incorporate all 4 of these elements. For example, NeuroDevNet researcher Darcy Fehlings narrates the “Exergame” video alongside her co-PI Nick Graham from GRAND NCE. Darcy tells the story about the research including some early findings which are illustrated by video clips of 2 teens using the exergame technology. Both Darcy and Nick provided references to peer-reviewed publications arising from this research, which were provided on-screen. Finally, an interview with a teen who participated in the research by pilot testing the exergame bike in his home, revealed that the research had already achieved ‘impact’ by improving his mobility and therefore his quality of life.

The most recent video published by NeuroDevNet is about the Caribbean Quest game which is an intervention for children with FASD or ASD to be able to improve their attention, working memory and executive function to facilitate better performance in school. Again, it contains all 4 elements: it is narrated by Kim Kerns and Sarah Macoun (NeuroDevNet researchers), includes voices of practitioners (educational assistants) who administered the intervention as well as the children who participated in the research. There is one reference on-screen for a publication that has been submitted, and the overall narrative is about the research process, findings, and observed impact(s).

One of the challenges when creating videos that contain testimonials is asking parents and children to participate.  It can create ethical challenges, which is why we use a thorough consent form (for informed consent).  We also offer participants the opportunity to preview the draft of the video and provide any feedback prior to uploading it publicly.

What do you think makes a video KT?

Is there anything missing from the list above?

Do you think you need to have all 4 elements to make a video “KT”?

Why or why not?

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and need advice on creating a KT video, contact the KT Core.