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  • Author or Editor: David Phipps x
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Impact is an increasingly significant part of academia internationally, both in centralised assessment processes (for example, UK) and funder drives towards knowledge mobilisation (for example, Canada). However, narrowly focused measurement-centric approaches can encourage short-termism, and assessment paradigms can overlook the scale of effort needed to convert research into effect. With no ‘one size fits all’ template possible for impact, it is essential that the ability to comprehend and critically assess impact is strengthened within the research sector. In this paper we reflect on these challenges and offer the concept of impact literacy as a means to support impact at both individual and institutional levels. Opportunities to improve impact literacy are also discussed.

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Universities seek to maximise the impact of their research by investing in technology commercialisation services but universities fail to support the various impacts of non-commercial research. This paper describes the experience of York University (Toronto, Canada) in developing the institutional capacity to support knowledge mobilisation to maximise the impacts of research from the social sciences and humanities. York works in partnership with local research users to provide enhanced access to research through dedicated support for research collaborations. Grounded in theories of knowledge transfer and exchange, and illustrated with examples, this paper demonstrates how investments in knowledge mobilisation create value for the institution, researchers, graduate students and research partners.

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Employing knowledge brokers is one way that universities and research centres have responded to the increasing emphasis on the wider usefulness and uptake of research beyond the academy. While there is an increase in the numbers of such professionals, there has been little focus on their roles, skills and development. In this paper, two knowledge exchange directors from Canada and the United Kingdom reflect on their combined experiences of being, developing and employing knowledge brokers in a range of roles.

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For research to translate into impact, knowledge must be effectively mobilised beyond the academic domain. However, there is little consensus on the competencies (skills) required. This paper describes the development of a competency framework. Four existing knowledge broker frameworks were synthesised through a process of (1) extraction, (2) categorisation, (3) cleaning and (4) re-categorisation. A final set of 80 distinct, actively-phrased competencies in 11 categories was produced. This paper provides the first comprehensive framework for professional competences for impact beyond commercialisation. The potential applications, implications for competencies and associated competence alongside further research are discussed.

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Informing policy and practice with up-to-date evidence on the social determinants of health is an ongoing challenge. One limitation of traditional approaches is the time-lag between identification of a policy or practice need and availability of results. The Right Here Right Now (RHRN) study piloted a near-real-time data-collection process to investigate whether this gap could be bridged.


A website was developed to facilitate the issue of questions, data capture and presentation of findings. Respondents were recruited using two distinct methods – a clustered random probability sample, and a quota sample from street stalls. Weekly four-part questions were issued by email, Short Messaging Service (SMS or text) or post. Quantitative data were descriptively summarised, qualitative data thematically analysed, and a summary report circulated two weeks after each question was issued. The pilot spanned 26 weeks.


It proved possible to recruit and retain a panel of respondents providing quantitative and qualitative data on a range of issues. The samples were subject to similar recruitment and response biases as more traditional data-collection approaches. Participants valued the potential to influence change, and stakeholders were enthusiastic about the findings generated, despite reservations about the lack of sample representativeness. Stakeholders acknowledged that decision-making processes are not flexible enough to respond to weekly evidence.


RHRN produced a process for collecting near-real-time data for policy-relevant topics, although obtaining and maintaining representative samples was problematic. Adaptations were identified to inform a more sustainable model of near-real-time data collection and dissemination in the future.

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