Knowledge translation toolkit: A resource for researchers
Publisher/Organizer: Research Matters (RM): a collaboration of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Publication date: 2008
Number of pages: 259
- Download the full Knowledge translation toolkit
- For more information and to download separate chapters, link to the web site
“What is Knowledge Translation? Known by a host of names, knowledge translation (KT) is such a tangle of actors, ideas and approaches as to defy a single definition. There are academic explanations of KT, there is KT in action, to some it means communications, to others linkage and exchange. Reduced to its essence, though, KT is the middle, meeting ground between two fundamentally different processes: those of research and those of action.
KT works, above all, to knit these two processes together. An intensely social process, KT depends upon relationships. With no golden formula for decision-making – where every policy weighs up all the evidence and arrives at the best, most rational solution – KT relies upon vibrant partnerships, collaborations and, above all, personal contact between researchers and research-users. In connecting the purity of science with the pragmatism of policy, the intangibles of trust, rapport and even friendship can be more potent than logic and more compelling than evidence.
Though the concept of KT has existed for decades, the Mexico City Ministerial Summit of Health Ministers in 2004 put the first real focus on the world’s “know-do” gap”. In an age where we know so many things, why are we applying so little of it? The Summit made this problem a priority, and a solution imperative. Summiteers called for the increased involvement of the demand side in the research process, emphasizing knowledge brokering and other mechanisms for “involving the potential users of research in setting research priorities”.1 Health policy, the Summit declared, should ultimately be “based on reliable evidence derived from high-quality research”.
Though the declaration was made with enthusiasm – and echoed in many follow-up meetings and papers – there was little guidance on how to actually bring together research and research-users. How, in practice, might we open these novel pathways connecting all these pivotal actors?
In the years since the Summit, our exploration of this particular question has led us to three core KT principles, which we illustrate on every page of this Toolkit:
- Knowledge. KT efforts at any level depend upon a robust, accessible and contextualized knowledge base.
- Dialogue. The relationships at the heart of KT can only be sustained through regular, two-way dialogue and exchange.
- Capacity. Researchers, decision-makers and other research-users require a strengthened skill-base to create and respond to KT opportunities…..”