How to tell a story (of your research) to anyone – you are Batman

By Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, Kids Brain Health Network

Almost two years ago I took a creative writing course. I didn’t expect at that time that it would be so relevant to Knowledge Translation, but I have come to realize that it really is.

I remember during graduate school, as researchers-in-training we were taught to be able to ‘tell the story’ in our data, meaning, how think analytically or be able to describe the patterns in your data.  Being able to tell the story that your data were telling you was necessary no matter whether it was a quantitative (statistical analysis of numerical data) project or qualitative (analysis of words, text).  But beyond this, when it comes time to tell the story of your research project as a whole, you need to become Batman.

“Becoming Batman” means you can think of yourself as the protagonist (see #4 below) in the story of your research project when you are developing your messaging for your KT products.  The KT Core recently produced an Infographic Guide. It requires the research team to sketch out the ‘story’ they want to tell about their research.  It occurred to me post-production that maybe some further pointers were needed for how to do that, and became the inspiration for this blog post.

Whenever we create KT products, it is usually the hope that it will inspire and inform changes; either in policy, practice or individual behaviours and attitudes.  In my creative writing class we were taught about ‘the poetics’ or the 4 ‘unities’ or ‘elements’ of any great story, no matter how it is told: in a book, a play, a movie, etc.  In each great (popular) story, all 4 elements are present.  These four elements and how they relate to telling a compelling story about your research that motivates people to take action are:

1)  Time: how much time is being covered in your story?  With respect to your research project, how long as the problem (see: #4 antagonist) under study been an issue?

You need a containable frame of time.  What was the time frame for your study?  Is there a timeline?

Was there a short timeline within which you had to solve this problem? What were the macro segments of time (the overall timeline from beginning to end) and what were the micro segments of time (time it took to interview respondents)?

You need to decide what will be the beginning of the story, and what will be the end. Make the time frame clear. Will you start to tell the story from before the project began, when you consulted with stakeholders to find out what they needed and formulated the research questions in order to figure out what the solutions could be?  Or will you start telling the story from when you successfully received a research grant to investigate your questions?  Is this something that occurred in the past? Over the past week? Over years? Are you telling the story in past tense or present tense?

Be aware of how much time (e.g. in a video) or space (in an infographic) you have to tell your story – if you only have a small amount of time or space, you are bound by that so keep the story within these constraints.  You can’t cover everything, and the amount of time or space will never be enough. But make a decision what you actually want to cover.

2)  Place:  In your story, where is your research taking place? Place is very important to the story, is it clearly defined or mentioned?  How has ‘place’ affected you and your role in the story of your research?  What are the people like?  How has it influenced who you are, how you do your work?  Make sure your interaction with ‘place’ is part of the story you are telling.

 

3)  Antagonist (villain): you can’t write a story without an antagonist, the antagonist is absolutely crucial to your story.  But in your research project you won’t be talking about how (you as) Batman defeated the Joker. An antagonist in a research project can be an illness, disease, societal issue you want to understand or solve, or a phenomenon (like a discovery you want to make).  Describe what your antagonist is.  What is the problem you are investigating?  Is your antagonist internal (you are struggling to overcome your own curiosity, your personal issues and/or health problems) or external (are you investigating a community or societal issue, an environmental plague, outer space, etc.)?  It should be readily apparent to the reader what it is you are up against.

How did you (or are you planning to) overcome it? This will be your research methods.

4)  Protagonist: The protagonist is the ‘hero’ or main character. This would be you, the researcher.  You are Batman.  You and your research team are working towards overcoming the ‘antagonist’ or problem you are investigating.

How are you different now at the end of the project than you were at the beginning? What did you learn? Discover?

You can’t have a little of both – it is absolute – you either overcome the antagonist or you succumb to it.  Did you overcome the antagonist (solve the problem you were investigating, make the discovery, answer your research questions) or did you succumb to it (the project did not yield results and further research is needed)? In storytelling this is known as the cathartic ‘release’, the recipient of your story is waiting to see whether it is going to be one or the other, and gets the same amount of pleasure out of the story whether you succeeded or failed. The reason why people are interested in your story is to find out what happened, to get that cathartic experience. In order to motivate the reader to action, you need to find a way to get that emotional reaction.

You have a fascinating research project. The trick is to be able to convey what’s important to you about your research, to someone else.  What is at stake for you? For society? Make sure the stakes are high enough, this makes the story more compelling.  What would happen if you hadn’t done this research project?

Food for thought for the next time you create an infographic (or really any KT product). What is the story you are telling? Does your ‘story’ evoke an emotional reaction? If the answer is yes, you will be more likely to motivate the reader toward action (e.g. changes in policy, practice, and/or personal behaviour) and isn’t that the reason why we do KT?

 

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

TedX

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: http://www.tedxyorkusalon.org/ or contact Dr. Jonathan Weiss (jonweiss@yorku.ca) or Dr. Jonathan Lai (jonlai@yorku.ca) 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.

 

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 www.researchimpact.ca/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.

5 tips for writing the KT section of your research grant application

grant writing pen page

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

1. Don’t over-cite KT literature – cite some relevant KT literature, and describe one framework but choose one that makes sense for your research-to-impact goals. But resist the urge to over-cite the KT literature in place of describing your KT plan. Dazzling the funder with your knowledge about what frameworks are out there is not going to impress them. Instead, tell them what you are going to do to help maximize the chances that people will use your research findings.

2. Write your research proposal first – Some researchers try to write their KT plan in parallel with their research proposal. However, your KT plan depends on what you are going to do for your research. For example, the audiences you choose and the strategies you use to reach them depend on what your project is about and what you hope will happen with those findings. When you contact the KT Core for help, send us your full proposal, along with the link to the application requirements to ensure we have the information we need to provide you with the best service.

Scientist Money beaker

3. Budget appropriately for your KT activities – you can have a most impressive KT plan, but you also need to allocate an appropriate portion of your budget to be able to follow through. If you have no idea what certain activities may cost (or how much time they will take to do) contact the KT Core.

4. Think beyond dissemination – it is common for researchers to primarily think about publications and conference presentations as KT. While they are end-of-grant KT, they are not enough to impress a funder. Tell them about how you will engage with your stakeholders early on and throughout the project (integrated knowledge translation) and describe how you believe this will maximize the chances that your research will be taken up into practice, implemented, and eventually achieve impact.

5. Get creative – it is okay to propose to do KT activities that have been done before, such as producing clear language summaries, infographics and videos. But what else can you do that will make sense for your project? For example, can you hold a community event? Can you use an arts-based approach such as a play or a hands-on community workshop? Get creative! Brainstorm with your research team to think about how (and how many different ways) you can get the main messages of your research to your target audience(s).

If you would like help with the KT planning section of your research grant application, contact the KT Core to see how we can help.

What does Program Science have to do with Knowledge Translation?

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

Program scienceis the systematic application of scientific knowledge to improve the design, implementation and evaluation of programs”.

InnovationPhotoColours

The NCE Program in Canada strives to facilitate the achievement of socio-economic impact for Canada through cutting-edge research and innovation.  One social benefit of this Federally-funded research includes implementing innovations into programs that serve Canadians.  NeuroDevNet NCE strives to achieve impact for Canadians affected by neurodevelopmental disorders such as Cerebral Palsy, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders.  One avenue is to achieve implementation of evidence-informed innovations into programs.  For example, after refining the exergame prototype, an innovation funded by NeuroDevNet and GRAND NCEs, this technology can expand the physical therapy options for youth with CP.  Integrating the exergame bike into physical therapy programs would be what we refer to as ‘implementation’ (see Figure below).

Phipps' Co-Produced Pathway to Impact can be used within a Program Science approach toward impact of evidence-based interventions.

Phipps’ Co-Produced Pathway to Impact can be used within a Program Science approach toward impact of evidence-based interventions.

NeuroDevNet NCE has adopted Phipps’ Co-Produced Pathway to Impact framework which focuses on stakeholder engagement throughout all stages of the research process, and pushes the boundaries of traditional end-of-grant KT beyond dissemination toward uptake, implementation of new evidence into practice and policy, and evaluation of subsequent impact(s).  Consider that programs are governed by managers and the policies they develop, and the program’s services are delivered by practitioners.  Impact is measured by evaluating both quantitatively and qualitatively, how the program has made a difference for those they serve – in our case, NeuroDevNet is concerned with measuring how research that has been implemented into programs and policies has improved the lives of children and families affected by neurodevelopmental disorders.  So, after the exergame bike has been implemented into a program, we would follow up and evaluate.

Program science has become important for HIV program development because it provides information about what programs work, for which individuals.  The field of program science asks questions that relate to aspects of a program including strategic planning, program implementation (mix of interventions, synergy across interventions) and program management (sustaining effective interventions and modifying programs as new knowledge and interventions emerge, quality improvement processes).

InnovationRace

NeuroDevNet supports the Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research, Jonathan Weiss.  Jonathan specializes in stakeholder consultation with diverse stakeholders including program planners/managers for informing his research, and researching interventions in order to make an evidence-base available for uptake.  This evidence-base can then be used by practitioners and policymakers to inform their decisions with respect to which interventions they choose to provide within programs and organizations (such as schools), and how these interventions are delivered.

NeuroDevNet’s FASD program is embarking on a new project this year to develop and test program materials for frontline workers in Children’s Aid Societies to improve their practice. This project is being done with the full involvement of frontline practitioners and program managers throughout the research process.  When there is an evidence base for these tools and training to show its effectiveness at the study sites, program science can inform the scaling up of the research findings toward improving practice across Canada.

One aspect of program science is implementation research, which is concerned with the development and implementation of evidence-based interventions…it can also provide information about how interventions can be adapted to new situations or communities…program science typically involves an ongoing process of engagement between researchers, policy makers, program planners, frontline workers and communities through which research is embedded into the design, implementation and continuous improvement of the overall program. Because the focus is on how an entire program impacts a population, program science typically involves consideration of overall health systems” – CATIE

It appears that we (NeuroDevNet, the NCE program, and many Knowledge Translation practitioners) may, in fact, be using a program science approach without knowing it.

How do you think you might already be using a program science approach to your work?

How can the principles of program science that are used for informing HIV programs, be translated into programs for children and families affected by neurodevelpmental disorders?

What can the field of KT learn or adapt from the field of program science? 

Do you think a program science approach can help you (as a researcher, as a KT professional) scale your proven interventions to other health systems, cultures, programs, or geographic regions across Canada and internationally?