5 Reasons to Do a Lab Exchange in Grad School

Guest post by Stephanie Glegg, PhD Candidate, Vanier Scholar, Public Scholar Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of British Columbia

Wondering if a Lab Exchange will be useful? Worried about the time and expense? Unsure how to optimize your experience?

In this post I share my top 5 reasons a lab exchange can be a good investment.

I recently received funding from the Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN) for a Lab Exchange with Anneliese Poetz and the KBHN KT Core, based out of York University’s award-winning Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit led by David Phipps. The KBHN is a Canadian National Centres of Excellence focused on improving diagnosis, treatment and support for families raising children with brain-based disabilities. Research teams that engage partners and stakeholders from the community, industry, government, the health care system, the not-for-profit sector and academia drive the network. As an occupational therapist who has worked with these children and families since early in my career, this focus really resonated with me.

The KBHN Knowledge Translation (KT) Core is a support team within the network that helps network members and partners form effective collaborations, and develop effective messaging for different audiences in order to share the findings from their research. My current role with the Evidence Centre at Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children is to help health professionals move evidence into action. As a trainee, my research is focused on studying the best ways to do this. The KT Core seemed like a perfect match to expand my skill set, which started me on the path to creating a lab exchange opportunity for myself.

Here are 5 reasons to take the plunge:

  1. You get to tailor your learning experience

A lab exchange is a learning opportunity designed specifically for you. You get to pick the people (your mentors), set the learning objectives and negotiate the learning activities. Reflect on what it is you would like to gain from the experience and from your mentor. Draft some rough learning objectives, and then refine them with your mentor. Collaborate to determine whether the objectives are feasible, what resources and timeline would be required, and the nature of the learning activities that will help you achieve them. As you refine your draft, think about the impact you’d like this experience to have on your career. What knowledge or skills would you like to acquire, and how will you apply them in your future work or career path?

My learning objectives were to be able to:

i. Describe the most frequent KT support needs of KBHN members and the strategies used by the KT Core to address them

My goal here was to determine what skills I might need were I to apply for a similar job, and to reflect on how their services were similar or different to those offered by my resource support team.

ii. Relay guiding principles, effective methods and tips to facilitate stakeholder engagement in KT activities

As I launch into the world of stakeholder-engaged research, learning from both researchers and from those with practical experience facilitating partnerships and engagement would be an asset.

iii. Demonstrate the effective use of various innovative knowledge mobilization methods to target a range of audiences (e.g. generating infographics, podcasts, briefing notes, videos, impact stories, etc.) and to identify effective resources to support their production

As a UBC Public Scholars Fellow, one of my goals is to incorporate non-traditional scholarly work into my PhD dissertation. I plan to generate some of these ‘knowledge products’ to share the key messages from my research with the various audiences who will be interested or impacted by my work. Practical tips, resources and examples to guide my efforts are always helpful.

  1. Different perspectives can improve your work

I’m not saying your own research lab isn’t amazing – you probably wouldn’t be there if you hadn’t identified some redeeming features for your learning. But a lab exchange gives you the chance to see what other people in your field are doing. You can pick up tricks and tips from their approaches that differ from yours or those of your lab mates. They can expose you to new ways of thinking, and share resources you didn’t know existed. Learning about their expertise, how they came to develop it and what value it has in their work may spark new professional development goals for you.

I was inspired by the diversity of skills my mentor and her colleagues brought to their work. Anneliese Poetz has a strong background in stakeholder engagement, and is constantly developing new and relevant skills drawn from the fields of visual media, business, software applications, qualitative research and knowledge translation. David Phipps is a leader in research impact, and a highly sought speaker on the topic of KMb, with a background in technology transfer. Michael Johnny is a KMb Manager with York University, who shared insights about his role as a knowledge broker engaging with community stakeholders, and about his capacity building activities and research impact evaluation processes. Simon Landry leads the VISTA (Vision: Science to Applications) network’s KT Core, and is also a podcaster. He and I discussed strategies for engaging researchers in knowledge translation, and the ways in which VISTA and KBHN require different approaches. Exchanging ideas with all of them inspired me to explore future educational opportunities in grounded theory, marketing, video editing and software applications to augment my impact as a KT practitioner and researcher.

  1. You might be surprised

A mentor’s approach may lead you to reflect on what you have done (or what you plan to do) in your research, and how it might be improved. The techniques, processes, theories or tools they use could vary drastically from what you are used to, and might make you consider how you would go about setting up your own lab or research program. You might also come to better appreciate the way things are done at your home lab, or the reasons they are done that way.

At my lab exchange, I was working on a learning activity in which I applied one of the KT Core’s KT planning tools to my doctoral research. I was asked to report on how I had engaged stakeholders in my work. I started out thinking the question was not very relevant to me, but through reflection, came to realize the extent to which I had engaged with different stakeholder groups before and during the research process. Because of that reflection, I can be more deliberate in planning for ongoing stakeholder engagement for the KT activities I will be carrying out moving forward.

  1. Networking

You may know your lab well, or other researchers in your institution or city. Reaching out to new experts outside of your current professional circles may create opportunities for you down the road. Learning more about a lab may help you narrow down your list of potential postdoc labs, or identify what it is you’re seeking in a future workplace. Or you may make important connections that could lead to research collaborations or even a job. Try to build in time with more than just your mentor. You may even plan an informational interview or a coffee meeting with someone outside your exchange lab while you are in town, to further expand your network.

I scheduled my Lab Exchange to align with a professional development symposium for clinician scientists so that I could save on travel expenses, but increase my opportunity to engage with others in my field or who share my current career path. Both the symposium and the lab exchange resulted in a solid list of people to whom I will reach out – to explore opportunities to learn more, to inquire about career options, to access resources, to connect with others, and to share my research.

  1. Travel

Although I stayed within my home country, you can set up a lab exchange almost anywhere in the world. Travel can augment your trip by giving you important non-academic experiences. You may also glean some great learning about differences in the social, institutional, physical or cultural environment between your lab setting and that of the exchange lab that might influence the phenomena you are studying. Research your trip, establish a budget, and include some down-time to explore. Explore funding options to help cover the costs. Don’t forget to consider the impact your travel will have on your academic progress. You may choose to plan your trip during the conference off-season, or well in advance of funding application or academic deadlines.

How will you know where to find your perfect match?

A lab exchange should be about seeking out unique professional development experiences that augment the learning you are getting at home. Do some research – speak with others in your field, scan social media for thought leaders, make note of key authors in the literature whose work intrigues you. Then reach out!

If you are a KBHN trainee and would like to participate in KBHN’s lab exchange program, contact Dr. Doug Swanson, Research and Training Manager for KBHN, dswanson (at) kidsbrainhealth.ca

Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @stephglegg

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: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/research-uptake-guidance

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.

 

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.

Clear Language That Packs a KT Punch

This week’s blog is written by Stacie Ross, KT Assistant for the KT Core of NeuroDevNet.

NeuroDevNet’s KT Core has been producing our ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries since 2014. We have 39 ResearchSnapshots posted on the NeuroDevNet site neurodevnet.ca. Responding to feedback from our researchers, we revised our process for clear language writing to take advantage of the expertise of our trainees who are close to the research being summarized.

How We Made a Change

Listening to our researchers allowed us to implement a new process that streamlined and simplified the writing process while at the same time created a ResearchSnapshot that more accurately reflected the original research being summarized. The result will be a more succinct and easy-to-understand review, and trainee writers who have developed clear writing as a new skill and produced clear language research summaries can place these non-academic publications on their CVs. Trainees are encouraged to review our process and think about whether they would like to work with the KT Core, to create a clear language summary of either their own peer-reviewed publication or one from their supervisor.

Revised Process Flow Chart for ResearchSnapshots

Revised Process Created Through Trainee Feedback

The detailed process was designed through a few meetings, incorporating feedback, and testing logistics. The umbrella process without all of the details is really four simple steps for us.

  1. Create an instructional webinar on how to write clear language summaries.
  2. Invite our NeuroDevNet trainees to the webinar/to view it online afterwards.
  3. Put out a network-wide call for papers.
  4. Send regular reminders to the network to submit papers.

On August 14th, 2015, we held a webinar to inform NeuroDevNet trainees about clear language summaries and how to write a ResearchSnapshot. Michael Johnny, Manager of Knowledge Mobilization at York University and Anneliese Poetz, Manager, Knowledge Translation (KT Core) outlined just how important design and clear language are for the reader to be able to understand the science behind the ResearchSnapshot. The webinar was a success with great comments received through an online survey afterwards.

“I liked that I came into it knowing nothing about the topic and not being really sure what to expect, but found that I now understand the importance and function of research snapshots.”

“The webinar was a great opportunity to learn about [NeuroDevNet] and clear language writing.”

We also received some tips on how to improve our next webinar. One example,

“I would have liked to see an example of a good research snapshot and a research snapshot that is not meeting criteria. That would have allowed us to have a clearer understanding of what to strive for and what to avoid.”

We will seek to address this valuable feedback in future training sessions.

As I am new to NeuroDevNet, I enjoyed being a part of the webinar and getting to know the process and clear writing expectations. View the webinar to learn about the value of clear language. I am looking forward to creating many more ResearchSnapshots and contributing clear language summaries that can speak to diverse stakeholders and provide them with the information they need to make decisions, to be informed, to provide care, to access more information.

Dr. Jarred Garfinkle’s ResearchSnapshot, “How Much of Cerebral Palsy is Caused by Genetics,” will be a clear language summary of Dr. Maryam Oskoui’s publication, “Clinically relevant copy number variations detected in cerebral palsy.” This will be my first ResearchSnapshot that I have coordinated. The draft is in, it’s terrific, and the process has been smooth and simple thus far. With the support of the online webinar, the existing ResearchSnapshots for reference, the knowledge mobilization writing guide, and myself and the entire KT Core, bringing evidence into practice is proving to be efficient and effective and exciting!

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and have a peer-reviewed publication you’d like to translate into a ResearchSnapshot clear language research summary, contact the KT Core.

Embedded KT Support within Project Teams – working the “Co-Produced Pathway to Impact” for NeuroDevNet NCE

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

In a recent blog post we told you about the development of a “Hybrid” tool that combines aspects of KT Planning with principles of project management. While this tool is appropriate for use by any researcher or trainee, we primarily developed it for use by NeuroDevNet’s 4 High Impact Projects (HIPs). The HIPs were chosen from existing NeuroDevNet research projects after the Research Management Committee directed that NeuroDevNet focus on 4-5 projects that had the “highest potential for creating impacts on diagnostics, interventions and services” during Cycle II. The idea is that by working closely with a small number of projects we can maximize the chances we will have specific examples of how we have achieved impact during Cycle II, to best position NeuroDevNet for Cycle III renewal. The process took several months, and began with a call to PIs to ask them to select projects within their programs that would fit the criteria to become a HIP. The KT Core made recommendations and the final High Impact Projects were approved by Dan Goldowitz, Scientific Director for NeuroDevNet.

Social ABCs High Impact Project Team members meeting with KT Core.

Social ABCs (ASD) High Impact Project Team members meeting with KT Core.

We provided the 4 HIPs with the Hybrid tool to use for drafting their KT plans for the next 5 years (Cycle II for NeuroDevNet). Over the course of this summer, David Phipps (KT Lead, NeuroDevNet) and I met with 3 out of the 4 HIP project teams for 1.5-2 days in-person to review their KT Plan with them and collaboratively refine it as needed.

This is exciting for NeuroDevNet’s KT Core, because it is the first time there have been KT practitioners (KT supports within an organization) embedded within project teams in this way. The information gathered within the Hybrid KT Planning tool will provide the information needed to manage the timelines and milestones for these KT plans during Cycle II. The aim is to work with project teams so that by the time we write our application for Cycle III funding we will have concrete examples of impact.

Screening & Intervention (FASD) High Impact Project team members working on KT Plan with NeuroDevNet's KT Core

Screening & Intervention (FASD) High Impact Project team members working on KT Plan with NeuroDevNet’s KT Core

The first meeting we attended was for a project in the ASD program called Social ABCs, the next was for the FASD program’s Screening & Intervention project, and finally the CP Program’s Exergame project. The first two were more focused on KT activities toward achieving uptake and implementation of their respective interventions into programs that serve children and families affected by ASD and/or FASD while the latter is more focused on commercialization of the Exergame technology and games for home use. In all meetings, the project team members (researchers, research support staff, practitioners/partners etc.) were fully engaged and commented afterwards about how useful this process has been for them: both the tool we provided and the in-person meetings.

As part of the process we are listening to project team members for their feedback on the Hybrid KT planning tool in order to inform future iterations. After the in-person meetings the KT Core continues to work with the HIPs to further refine and finalize their KT plan, and also to determine the best ways in which we can integrate with project teams and support their KT goals for Cycle II. We view this as an iterative process, and we will review these KT plans on an annual basis with follow up in-person meetings with project teams.

These HIPs are pilot projects – the KT Core remains available to help all NeuroDevNet projects with KT Planning and other KT services.

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and would like help with your KT plan for a grant application or for your already-funded NeuroDevNet project(s) contact the KT Core to find out how we can help.

Sustainability and Knowledge Translation: sessions at Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum 2015

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

This past Thursday May 14, 2015 and Friday May 15, 2015 the 2015 Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum took place at the Grand Bibliotheque in Montreal, QC. The Canadian Knowledge Mobilization forum is the national conversation on KT/KMb practice and an excellent way not only to build our own skills but to brand NeuroDevNet as a leading KT organization.  In fact, it was during this event that David Phipps (NeuroDevNet KT Lead) received the “2015 President’s Award for innovation” in “recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the field and practice of Knowledge Mobilization in Canada and internationally”.

14/05/2015 ckf15 Photo Pedro Ruiz

Peter Levesque presents Knowledge Translation award to David Phipps at CKF 15
Photo credit: Pedro Ruiz

The overall theme of the conference was “Creativity as Practice: Mobilizing Diverse Ways of Thinking”. I both learned from other presenters, and shared my own knowledge.

In the workshop “Narratives, video and smartphones as KT tools for youth” (by Sean Muir) I learned that the ‘formula’ for maximizing effectiveness of KT with youth is: grab their attention with a shocking image or story, present your content/message, and then end with something positive. Sean used examples of videos and posters to illustrate this point. In the workshop on “Mobilizing your message through documentary video: research findings as cinematic narrative” (Callista Haggis et al.) the takeaways for creating KT videos were “done is better than perfect”, “show don’t tell” and “think about what you want your target audience to think, feel, do”. In this case, the documentary was both to present research findings in an alternative format, as well as to inspire discussion about the issues presented in the video toward possible infrastructure changes to accommodate the needs of an aging population.

NeuroDevNet’s KT Core Lead, David Phipps, participated in leading 2 sessions. One session was with Purnima Sundar (Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health) and Renee Leduc (NCE Secretariat).

ReneePurnimaDavid_CKF15The audience gained insight into the 3 common reasons why research grant applications fail: 1) lack of meaningful end user engagement, 2) unclear pathway to impact, and 3) poor evaluation of KM (Knowledge Mobilization) and of impact. The NCE Secretariat provided tips on how to prepare a successful research funding application, and held an interactive session asking for the audience’s ideas for what the NCE Secretariat could do to help applicants be more successful. Ideas included: successful applicants’ mentoring of new applicants, creation of how-to videos to accompany written grant application instructions, and provision of examples.

David moderated the session on “the paths of sustainability for KMb” in which I was one of the 4 presenters. I presented on the KT Core’s evaluation framework, indicators, and 3 factors relating to sustainability: relevance (how does what we’re doing fit with our priorities), leadership (who is responsible for ensuring outcomes are met), and financial (can cost-effective strategies be used).   The presentations were 10 minutes each. When the presentations were over, each presenter took their discussion question to a corner of the room and invited attendees to join their group (depending on which question most interested them) and discuss it further in terms of their own context.

PicFromDJP_sessionCKF15The questions were:

– How are people attempting to influence sustainability across diverse settings with the use of tools?
– How can we sustain KT implementation through strategic planning?
– How can team capacity and culture be shaped over time to best meet the needs of knowledge users?

And my question was:

– What factors should be considered with respect to sustainability?

I had about 12 people in my breakout discussion group. Although I had a discussion question prepared, I received several questions about what NeuroDevNet’s KT Core does in terms of evaluation and also about database design and development. After the breakout discussions we returned to the large group and each presenter did a ‘report back’ about what their group discussed.

“Anneliese provided a great overview of the process she developed to measure the relevance and impact of knowledge translation products. Her experience was very relevant as our organization is currently exploring different methods of evaluating our work. We look forward to learning more about Anneliese’s indicators and database.”
– Sheena Gereghty, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and would like help with KT videos, advice on event evaluations and/or evaluation of your other KT activities and products, contact the KT Core to find out how we can help.

Knowledge Translation (KT) Best Practices for Networks of Centres of Excellence

By: Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

It all started in Halifax at the NCE KT Best Practices Symposium, hosted by MEOPAR when the NCE Secretariat co-presented with David Phipps and me on indicators and reporting for Knowledge Translation (otherwise known as KM or Knowledge Mobilization).  Afterwards, we were invited to co-present on the first day of a 2-day meeting that took place in Ottawa on March 30 and 31, 2015 on KT Best Practices for NCEs.

David J. Phipps, Photo by: Hans Posthuma Photography. Manager, Communications - NCE Secretariat

David J. Phipps, Lead, Knowledge Translation (KT) Core, NeuroDevNet. Photo by: Hans Posthuma Photography. Manager, Communications – NCE Secretariat

The day that David and I co-facilitated the meeting in Ottawa on behalf of NeuroDevNet, there were 2 other NCEs (Canadian Water Network, PREVNet) and the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health who also actively participated presenting their tools for KT.  There was a lot of behind the scenes preparation in the months and days leading up to the event.   Each of these 3 organizations provided tools they had created for themselves: CWN and CYMH shared their KT planning tools, while PREVNet’s contribution was an example of an evidence-informed tool for practitioners.

David moderated part 1, which consisted of presentations, panel discussion and Q&A for each of the 3 tools.  Once the audience had a chance to learn what the tools were all about, I facilitated part 2 which was all about applying them.  The KT planning tools were applied to case studies from their respective organizations, and also to the PREVNet anti-bullying guide which was adapted to be a real-life ‘case study’ – in essence, the group would help develop a KT plan for PREVNet to be able to achieve the greatest awareness, dissemination and eventual uptake, implementation and impact of their KT product.

2015 NCE annual best practices sessions 121 cropped

Photo by: Hans Posthuma Photography. Manager, Communications – NCE Secretariat

Representatives from each of these 3 organizations circulated amongst the participants to answer questions and provide guidance if needed.  Overall, the group of over 60 NCE executives took the task seriously and came up with some great ideas!  When the break out groups reported back to the large group, their feedback was typed onto a large screen ‘live’ so everyone could see, and so there would be a record of their ideas – especially for the benefit of PREVNet so they could apply the KT planning ideas suggested by the group.

Sharing tools for KT is important because it helps advance the field of KT, the sense of community among NCEs, and perhaps most importantly maximize the potential for each NCE to achieve the uptake, implementation and impact of their research findings.  Providing attendees the opportunity to learn about and then apply one of the tools in a small group (social learning) was intended to increase the likelihood that they’d use (or adapt) one or more of the tools to their own NCE’s context.

“David and Anneliese facilitated a great hands-on practical session.  Solid KM practices are increasingly recognized as important elements of a network’s strategic plan.  The participants were left with a variety of very useful tools to choose from and apply to their unique needs.”
– Stéphanie Michaud, Deputy Director of the NCE program

The KT Core provides support for KT Events. If you are planning an event that has a KT component, contact the KT Core to find out how we can help.