- Knowledge Mobilization
Knowledge Mobilization may be defined as putting available
knowledgeinto active service to benefit society. It may be knowledge that has been gathered through systematic study or through experience. Both the research knowledge and experiential wisdom are worth sharing to the benefit of others. It is an obligation and a right to share and to have access to beneficial knowledge.
As a matter of course, knowledge is shared among people, among experts and between people and the experts in many forums. Yet much knowledge does not reach those who need it in order to make better decisions that would benefit themselves, their family, community or the society at large, at national and global levels.
Knowledge Mobilization is a proactive process to ensure that knowledge, especially that created through publicly funded programs is informed by needs and reaches the intended audience.
Ways and means of knowledge mobilization are many and encompass a variety of strategies including producer push, user pull, knowledge exchange and even co-production of knowledge. These strategies may be informal, in formal classroom settings, organized conferences, through the media, online and electronic means.
Wikipedia is one good example of knowledge mobilization. It is providing the means for sharing knowledge among equals for collective benefit.
One organization that has adopted knowledge mobilization, as a priority, is the
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada[ [http://www.sshrc.ca SSHRC/CRSH - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council / Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines ] ] based in Ottawa, Canada. There is also the Canadian Center for Knowledge Mobilization [ [http://www.cckm.ca CCKM Welcome ] ] and the emerging Canadian Knowledge Mobilization initiative of [http://www.researchimpact.ca ResearchImpact] lead by [http://www.yorku.ca York University] (Toronto, Ontario) and the [http://www.uvic.ca University of Victoria] (Victoria, British Columbia).
There are also privately held consulting and research companies, such as [http://www.knowledgemobilization.net Knowledge Mobilization Works] and [http://www.savoirpublic.ca Public Knowledge Canada] , who engage in building the capacity for knowledge mobilization with a range of clients including those in education, healthcare, and government.
Other organizations are promoting the same process under different names, such as knowledge dissemination, knowledge translation, knowledge transfer and exchange. While it may be known by different labels, these processes share by design an interactive dialogue and engagement between the producers and users of the knowledge. The sooner that such dialogue starts the better so that both those involved in doing the research and the potential users of the findings can benefit from each others knowledge and perspective. Unlike research dissemination, systematic reviews or less interactive forms of knowledge transfer (such as producer push), knowledge mobilization seeks to create knowledge-based relationships between researchers and research users that enable and contextualize the sharing of codified “evidence” and other forms of knowing. Because knowledge mobilization is focused on the human interaction the process of research utilization cannot be disentangled form the product of research itself.
Sometimes it is necessary to have knowledge brokers who can act as a bridge between the users and producers of the knowledge. Such brokering is essential to ensure that right information is available to right people, at the right time in the right format. These ideas of quality research informed by needs of research users, accurate interpretation, open access and just-in-time service are the bases for good researcher-user interface, often provided by knowledge brokers who can synthesize a large body of research and look for policy and practice implications that facilitate use of research results.
The Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF) has made extensive use of knowledge brokering and promoted evidence-informed decision making in the health services field. CHSRF has developed extensive tools and resources that are finding use outside the health field. Similarly Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) have developed the idea of knowledge translation as a means to make better use of research in the health field.
Potential users of research findings may not be obvious upfront at the start of the research process. The research endeavour may be theoretical or historic of interest to a few others. However, as the research process unfolds, implications and possible uses of research widen to broader and broader audiences. It is being attentive to such possibilities that is the essence of knowledge mobilization. To always be on the look out for use of the information to the greatest possible extent. It is such use that builds a legacy for future generations.
Application of science to technological problems and innovations seems easier than the findings in social sciences areas that are investigating long term embedded societal problems that are intertwined at local, national and global levels. They deal with the people side of the quality of life and nation building that is so crucial to future progress of humanity. Human, technological and cultural developments are needed for economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, social harmony and cultural vitality.
There are many excellent research articles examining research utilization. Recently Sandra Nutley and colleagues from the Research Unit for Research utilization (http://www.ruru.ac.uk/index.html) at the University of Edinburgh published "Using Evidence: How Research Can Inform Public Services" (Nutley, Walter and Davies, Policy Press, 2007). This book provides an extensive review of the literature on research utilization from traditional constructs to contemporary design, from the practice and policy perspectives and examines strategies to enhance research utilization and measure the impact of research use.
Another organization supporting and promoting knowledge mobilization, as it relates to education, is Canadian Council on Learning (CCL).
United Way also become active in knowledge mobilization by developing working relationships with Universities and Colleges. It is a win-win strategy that provides to knowledge and expertise that is mutually valuable. Researchers and students have an opportunity to work with real life situations in the community. The community practitioners are not only able to contribute to the success of the research but also develop connections that provides access to the body of knowledge that exists within the educational institutions.
[http://www.mun.ca/educ] The Faculty of Education at
Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canadahas also been promoting Knowledge Mobilization as part of [http://www.killickcentre.ca/] a Community University Research Alliance (CURA) on e-learning. A videoon knowledge mobilization was created in the context of this project. It is available on YouTube. The [http://www.mun.ca/harriscentre/] Harris Centre at Memorial is the sponsor of a [http://www.mun.ca/harriscentre/Conferences_Workshops/KM2008/KIM.php] Knowledge Mobilization conference.
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