Getting schooled on knowledge exchange

Special to Western News

Mariam Hayward, Knowledge Exchange and Impact Manager with Research Western, heads the Knowledge Exchange School pilot project, along with Western Libraries, BrainsCAN and School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies.

Western faculty, postdocs and other researchers are heading to class next week to better understand how they can get their ideas “out into the world” and into the hands of those who need it most.

On Dec. 10-12, Western’s Knowledge Exchange School will showcase tools, resources and expertise currently available across campus for researchers to make their work more accessible to a variety stakeholders, both inside and outside academia.

“The need for a Knowledge Exchange School came up because of the increasing emphasis on knowledge exchange plans, research uptake and impact by funding agencies, and as a result of the demand across our campus for support in these areas,” said Mariam Hayward, Knowledge Exchange and Impact Manager with Research Western. She heads the pilot project, along with Western Libraries, BrainsCAN and School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies.

The term ‘knowledge exchange’ refers to activities aimed at bridging the gap between research and real-world application or practice, including raising awareness of research findings in order to have a bigger impact outside the university walls.

“In its simplest definition, knowledge exchange is about sharing research and knowledge with those who can use it,” Hayward said. “The process increases awareness of research, creates connections, increases engagement between those conducting research and those who can use it, and increases research utilization and impact.

“Scholars all across our campus are doing such amazing research – it is important we get our research ‘out into the world’ and tailor to those who can use it so the benefits of the work are realized.”

Three sessions being offered will cover the development of research programs and research impact measurement; integration of knowledge exchange into grant applications (knowledge exchange plans, evaluation, research data management and open access); and communicating research to, and beyond, the scientific community.

Hayward hopes this project will begin to create a community of those interested in knowledge exchange at Western.

“Knowledge exchange spans the entire research lifecycle from design to dissemination covering everything from grant writing to evaluation, engagement, and communication of research,” she said. “Communication is important to sharing research and knowledge, but the trick is using a storytelling and plain language approach that enhances the relevance of the research to different audiences including those outside of academia.”