A Knowledge broker’s perspective on research
By Michael Johnny, Manager, Knowledge Mobilization at York University
I have a unique and enjoyable role at York University as a knowledge broker. My role is to connect York researchers with community, industry and government for collaborative research on complex social issues, which fits well with the type of work Mitacs does. Knowledge mobilization is a key way to make the work done at universities relevant to greater society by helping shape policies and practices and by driving technological development through academic and industry collaborations.
There are three fundamental aspects of knowledge mobilization which I feel are important:
1. Co-produced knowledge is the most effective form of knowledge mobilization
Simply put, collaborative research projects provide the best environment for research utilization. York’s David Phipps has introduced this previously and our work to support graduate student internships has reinforced this. Bringing together researchers with decision makers at the start of the research cycle creates a clear and common research agenda, to maximize the benefits of outcomes. There are two examples based on internships which we like to share with people that reinforce this point, one around youth homelessness and the other about green economic development.
2. Benefits of the research can take time
Since 2006, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has helped support almost 400 unique collaborative activities and projects. Almost 50 of these have been internships. This has not only helped students develop new skills and employment opportunities, it has also helped their non-academic partner organizations through research knowledge and access to university facilities. But while collaborative projects sometimes don’t provide impact immediately upon completion, many benefits can be seen longer term. Impact can take time.
3. Relationships matter
The ability to facilitate a two-way exchange of knowledge, information and expertise relies on a strong relationship between researchers and decision makers. Graduate student internships are a powerful mechanism to support knowledge mobilization. Many of our success stories at York are predicated on successful internships. If you want to embark on a successful internship, make the time to get to know your partner and understand them – their needs, motivations and assets.
Has your company benefitted from knowledge mobilization with a university? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Want to learn more about how Mitacs internships are helping to connect Canadian researchers with industry? Contact a local Mitacs representative.