How can you plan for knowledge mobilisation?
Researchers who apply for funding from NIHR research programmes are expected to include an engagement and impact plan in their application.
You should consider your knowledge mobilisation strategies at the beginning of a research programme.
The people who will use your research or ‘evidence users’ have a key role to play in:
- shaping research priority areas
- designing research questions through consensus and co-production
Consider 3 things to maximise the potential impact of your research at any stage in a research project:
- communities: who is going to use your research?
- context: what are the contextual influences that will affect your research?
- communications: what tools do you have to share your research?
Communities: who is going to use your research?
Prioritise stakeholders to focus your time, energy and resources.
Start by asking yourself:
- who could (or should) be interested in your project?
- how much influence does this person/professional group have over whether this research influences practice?
You can then map out the people and groups you’ve identified on a stakeholder grid plotting interest against influence.
The stakeholders who are high interest and high influence should be your priority, but remember that both interest and influence can change over time. Changes are usually a result of the next thing you should consider, context.
Context: what are the contextual influences that will affect your research?
Contextual influences are the wider factors that might affect your stakeholders and how they interact with your research. These can be:
They might not all be appropriate to your project, and they might change as your project progresses, but it can be worth thinking about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats presented by each factor.
According to Dr Jenni Lynch, Reader in Social Care, Technology & Knowledge Mobilisation:
“For knowledge mobilisation to work well you want to be a trusted part of the conversation, you want to be helping colleagues to think through the challenges and opportunities”
Communication: what tools do you have to share your research?
From your stakeholder mapping you can see the people you’re trying to reach. For each group, consider whether you can reach them:
- directly - through personal contacts
- indirectly - through an intermediary, for example, a colleague
- by a community - through a professional body, community group, consortium etc.
When communicating with your stakeholders, think about what’s important to your audience and start with that first.
This is usually the implications of your research, rather than information on the background or methods.
You also want to consider which communication method will work best for your audience. Examples include social media, events, briefing papers, conversations. Different audiences will need different approaches.
You need to think about how you:
- reach them
- explain your work
- gather their perspectives.
What are the pros and cons of different creative communication techniques? Learn more in this blog on NIHR Evidence: Creative communication tools can bring research findings to a wider audience.
You can also find other summaries of research that has used knowledge mobilisation approaches in the 'Maximising research impact' section on NIHR Evidence.
Researchers and research funders are striving to make research findings available to everyone. So, how can we do this well? Find out in this blog: Getting the message across: how can we share our research with everyone?
Take a look at this infographic, which sets out some of the key things to consider when communicating your research to patients and the public: 10 recommendations for communicating research to patients and the public