Knowledge translation

Knowledge translation (KT) techniques can help researchers become more active, context- aware, and collaborative in sharing the planning, implementation and results of research. Application of these techniques helps make research and its conclusions more relevant to stakeholders and target audiences, and ultimately more useful.5

There are essentially two types of KT activities: integrated knowledge translation (iKT) and ‘end-of- grant’ KT.

Integrated KT approaches (iKT) allow for greater innovation and are effective in providing timely solutions to implementation problems, including while research is being planned and/or taking place. This approach is a mixture of art and science, and illustrates some core features of IR itself. For example, it is multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary, as well as dynamic and interactive.6 The integrated approach requires team members and other stakeholders to share new knowledge and data with key end-users as they are generated, and to invite their interpretation and input. Because the findings then reflect the needs of knowledge users, they have a much higher likelihood of being acknowledged, augmented and used.

iKT also includes ongoing activities such as priority setting and adjustment, development of interim information products, advocacy with policy-makers, and the development/deployment of knowledge translation platforms/rapid response services, as appropriate. Integrated approaches do not treat knowledge as something that is generated, disseminated and then applied. Rather, iKT views research knowledge – from its creation through to its application – as a collective, co-productive undertaking.7 It respects the two-way dynamic and broader environment in which research evidence is created, shaped and ultimately used by many different stakeholders, participants and programme implementers.

This approach largely reverses the typical default ‘authority’ of researchers: IR teams do not possess exclusive control of research evidence, but operate in a much more transparent and accountable way. In order to make research evidence and conclusions more relevant and responsive, iKT approaches involve practitioners, planners and programme managers (among others) in the process of identifying, designing and conducting research. This uniquely positions IR as a tailored, context-sensitive process that is responsive to stakeholder/participant needs and demands.

End-of-grant KT activities are more typical to various mainstream types of biomedical research, and are often built into funding proposals.8 As the name suggests, such activities are typically conducted at the end of the research, or ‘knowledge creation’ process. They are focussed on translating knowledge into more conventional information products and disseminating those to generally broader audiences, and over a longer time period. These include peer-reviewed papers, guidelines, conference presentations, press releases, radio spots, and so on. These activities essentially present completed findings, appropriately summarized for a given audience. Although end-of-grant KT activities can be conducted as part of IR, it is generally a limited activity9 as it tends to lag behind the conclusion of research, and findings may not be applied in time to address the implementation challenge in question.

TDR Implementation research toolkit

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References