York University’s Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Unit has released 40 new ResearchSnapshot summaries and opened two new Community Collaboration Stations. The announcement of the new initiatives was made Dec. 2 during an afternoon research forum hosted at the University by the KM Unit.
The summaries are available in a searchable online database located on the KM Unit’s ResearchImpact Web site. They provide an introduction into the variety and depth of research that is conducted at York University and the University of Victoria as part of ResearchImpact, a service-oriented program designed to connect university research with research users across Canada to ensure that research helps inform decision-making. The KM Unit’s new Community Collaboration Stations provide research collaborators with access to a York computer, which allows them to access materials contained in the York Libraries and other online resources.
Some of the new research summaries highlight the work of York education Professor Stephen Gaetz, who studies homelessness, and that of Professor Uzo Anucha of the School of Social Work in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, who studies youth and poverty. The complete library of research summaries consists of 84 entries that present the results of research on a variety of issues, including HIV/AIDS, immigration & settlement, employment and climate change, as well as research on business & management, law and health services, to name but a few.
First announced in the spring of 2009 (see YFile, May 27), the ResearchSnapshot concept was ;tested in focus groups which included University researchers, provincial policy-makers and community social service organizations. The focus group participants were supportive of the initiative, which was described as offering an excellent introduction to research with just enough background and contact information, without being overwhelming.
|Above: Participants in the afternoon research forum presented by York’s KM Unit. The forum featured York researchers speaking on the topic of youth engagement. The announcement of the new ResearchSnapshots and Community Collaboration Stations was made at the Dec. 2 forum.|
There are limitations to the utility of the research summaries, says David Phipps, director of the Office o Research Services at York University. He points out that a decision about public policy or professional practice should not be made on the basis of a single research study. “We use ResearchSnapshots as a calling card to alert our non-academic research partners that there is research expertise at York that might be relevant to a partner’s interests,” says Phipps. This calling card helps York’s KM Unit broker relationships between York and potential collaborators or organizations seeking to use research to inform decisions, says Phipps.
“York has opened Canada’s first Knowledge Mobilization Unit that is fully integrated into the University’s research infrastructure,” says Stan Shapson, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “The expertise of York’s researchers and their graduate students should be accessible in order to maximize the social economic and environmental impacts of public investments in university research.”
Daniele Zanotti, CEO of the United Way of York Region, agrees. “It is important that community agencies are working from the best knowledge available so that they can make well-informed decisions,” she says. “York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit provides an avenue for community organizations to tap into the research expertise available in the University. It makes research, as well as researchers and graduate students, accessible to non-academic decision-makers.”
The development of the ResearchSnapshots was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada. Production of the latest 40 research summaries and the Community Collaboration Stations were made possible through the support of the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation at York University.