Teaser image

RURU - News & Events

Latest news

New book chapter on knowledge mobilisation

Sandra Nutley and Huw Davies have published a chapter on knowledge mobilisation in a new book, Knowledge and Practice in Business and Organisations. The book has been produced by the Knowledge and Practice research group in the School of Management, University of St Andrews.

A video slideshow which introduces the content of the full book and the process by which it was produced can viewed at https://vimeo.com/171383238.

See the chapter (open access, pre-publication version pdf): Knowledge mobilisation: creating sharing and using knowledge.

Event report

"Facilitating meaningful dialogue around diverse kinds of knowledge",
a Health and Care Research Wales/RURU jointly organised event

This event, bringing together a diverse group of people from around the UK to discuss a range of approaches to facilitating meaningful dialogue around diverse kinds of knowledge, took place on Monday 21 March 2016 at the School of Management, University of St Andrews.

Feedback from participants was very warm including:

"Just a brief but big THANK YOU for an exceptional symposium on Monday...exquisitely organised; inspiring presentations; great cartoons, open-minded and interesting participants; plenty of opportunities for conversations, mulling, wondering and tentatively concluding; delicious lunch, and a wonderfully warm and welcoming atmosphere. I had such a good time! Thank you for inspiring me…"

"I am writing to express my thanks to you and the whole team for such a great experience this week. Aside from the incredible generosity and hospitality that we experienced from RURU, it was an extremely well organised and intellectually stimulating event."

See the detailed programme at “Meaningful dialogue (programme)” (docx)

See Vicky Ward’s blog about the day, which includes pre-reading and links to information about the presenters. Vicki is based at Leeds Institute of Health Sciences.

Presentations are provided below. More information concerning the output from the meeting will be posted here in due course but we hope you find these initial materials to be of interest.

Presentations (large powerpoints which may take some time to open)

Huw Davies – Welcome and introduction (pptx)

Oliver Escobar – Dialogue and Deliberation (Approach 1) (pptx)

Neil Mercer and/or Lyn Dawes – Thinking Together (Approach 2) (ppt)

Sue Lyle – Community of Enquiry (Approach 3) (ppt)

Belinda Dewar – Caring Conversation (Approach 4) (pptx)

Roger Rowett – Appreciative Inquiry (Approach 5) (ppt)

David Rooney & Bernard McKenna – Practical wisdom (Approach 6) (video below)

Event announcement

"Facilitating meaningful dialogue around diverse kinds of knowledge",
a Health and Care Research Wales/RURU jointly organised event

Monday 21 March 2016
School of Management, University of St Andrews

In a joint event with Health and Care Research Wales, RURU will explore the ways that meaningful dialogue can be facilitated. The day will focus on supporting dialogue around various types of knowledge that might inform frontline services in health care, social care, education and associated services and partners. The intention is that outputs should include an academic journal article.

See full information - with RSVP details - at "Meaningful dialogue (brief)" [pdf].

RURU Informal event: Negotiating understanding: supporting dialogue in knowledge interaction
November 2015, University of St Andrews

The Research Unit for Research Utilisation (RURU) held an informal event on 9 November 2015 to explore how supported dialogue can facilitate knowledge interaction and practice change. Around 30 participants from a range of fields - including health, education, social care and justice - came together to share and discuss the issues and challenges of supporting such dialogue. Invited speakers presented their experiences and each presentation was followed by small-group discussions examining the implications for knowledge sharing and practice change.

See the "Negotiating understanding" programme [pdf].

Three short presentations from different fields were used to provoke reflection and open up discussions.

Presentations [pdfs]

1) Nick Andrews, from the School for Social Care Research at Swansea University. "Developing Evidence Enriched Practice (DEEP) in social care: 'it's a bit like making a cake'".

2) Vicky Ward, from the Academic Unit of Primary Care at Leeds University. "Helping health and social care practitioners share knowledge – the trials and the tribulations".

3) Martin Marshall and Laura Eyre, from Improvement Science London and UCL. "Evaluating an integrated care programme using the Researcher-in-Residence model".

Discussion prompts [pdfs]

The presentations, small discussion groups and a final plenary session generated lively discussions which continued into the evening over an informal dinner.

Summary of observations from discussions

 On blending knowledge:

  1. There are many different sources and forms of knowledge that need to be part of the mix when supporting dialogue. How these are labelled tends to matter (e.g. hard and soft).
  2. It is important from the outset to clarify the purpose of any knowledge interaction event as this is likely to effect how different forms of knowledge are ‘weighed’ against one another, although it is always important to acknowledge and value differences in perspective.
  3. Blending different sources and forms of knowledge may be easier in the context of frontline practice when compared to operating in policy settings.

 On facilitating dialogue and action:

  1. There is a need for explicit and skilled facilitation which confronts and seeks to alter power differentials as appropriate.
  2. The power of stories in facilitating dialogue should not be underestimated (although it was also noted that careful use of numbers can be powerful and persuasive).
  3. The link between dialogue and action is not always clear but participation in enacting change was also considered important, possibly via a process of co-design.

 On knowledge brokering roles:

  1. The set-up arrangements for brokering roles really matters, in particular whether the broker is embedded in normal team functioning or whether the arrangements support the creation of special protected reflective spaces.
  2. The language used about the role can have critical influence - embedded researcher, facilitator, broker or critical friend, to name just a few – because this is associated with different connotations and role dynamics.
  3. When the role of broker as “change agent” is mixed with a role as “researcher” significant tensions can arise.
  4. There are evident risks and discomforts that can arise in brokering roles, suggesting the need for broader support and debriefing for those taking on these roles.

PhD Studentships: exploring research-informed service change in the Scottish NHS

Funded PhD opportunities are available, hosted jointly by the Scottish Improvement Science Collaborating Centre (SISCC), the Research Unit for Research Utilisation (RURU), and the Social Dimensions of Health Institute (SDHI) at the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews. These studentships (fees plus stipend at Research Council rates) are to explore aspects of research-informed change in the Scottish NHS.

Entry: January or September 2016.
The deadline for submission for these studentships is 5pm Monday 23 November 2015.

Details: PhD studentships [pdf].

Mobilising knowledge to improve health care project: post-project workshop held in London on 9 December 2014

The Mobilising Knowledge to Improve Health Care project was an eighteen month project involving RURU researchers Huw Davies, Sandra Nutley and Alison Powell. The project ran from January 2013-June 2014 and aimed to map the knowledge mobilisation approaches being used by major research funders, producers and intermediaries in health care, social care and education, to explore their connections with the literature and to collate the formal and informal learning from these activities.

A post-project workshop was held in London on 9 December 2014. Attended by 35 people involved in knowledge mobilisation in health, social care and education agencies, the workshop provided an opportunity to discuss the study's overall findings and to consider in more depth the scope for developing two of the key outputs: the concept map of the knowledge mobilisation literature and the eight 'archetypes' of knowledge mobilisation practices.

Following short presentations in the morning, the afternoon session consisted of discussions in small groups during which participants used a range of creative materials to explore key issues arising from the study:

  • Sharing the learning about knowledge mobilisation more effectively across agencies
  • Supporting more and better evaluations of knowledge mobilisation activities
  • Turning the concept map into a practical tool: the next steps
  • Turning the archetypes into a practical tool: the next steps
  • What would an effective and flourishing knowledge mobilisation ecosystem look like?

The RURU study team will now be working with colleagues to build on these discussions.

RURU Informal event: Evaluating knowledge mobilisation: Issues, challenges and works-in-progress
28 October 2014, The Boardroom, School of Management, University of St Andrews

The Research Unit for Research Utilisation (RURU) held an informal event to explore issues around the evaluation of knowledge mobilisation work. Around 30 participants from a range of fields including health, education, social care, environmental management and technology development enjoyed the sea views from the Boardroom in the School of Management's Gateway building and grappled with the issues and challenges of evaluating knowledge mobilisation as seen from the perspective of a range of projects.

Six short presentations from different fields were used to provoke reflection and open up discussions:

The presentations generated lively discussions which continued into the evening over an informal dinner.

Among the issues raised were the following

  • The need to distinguish between the mechanisms of impact and the actual outcomes or impacts;
  • The importance of the timing of an evaluation both in terms of what can be evaluated and how propitious the circumstances are for using the finding and the learning that come from the evaluation;
  • The value of different types of evaluation: for some agencies it may be appropriate to do large evaluations which also contribute to the literature while for others, smaller evaluations that enable the agency to move forward may be helpful and more realistic;
  • The importance of taking into account in any evaluation the different perspectives that different stakeholders have (e.g. the outcomes that matter to the research end-users may be very different from those of the researchers);
  • The importance of surfacing and acknowledging the underlying assumptions that stakeholders hold about knowledge, knowledge mobilisation/exchange and evaluation: these will affect both the knowledge mobilisation/exchange activities and the evaluation;
  • The value of capturing process outcomes as well as end outcomes (e.g. what effects does simply being involved in research have on practitioners over and above the intervention itself? Why is it that some practitioners are keen to be involved in any research study?)
  • The value of building on existing knowledge mobilisation activities and mechanisms when designing activities and their evaluations: what is already working well in this community?
  • The need to avoid 'impost': an unacceptable level of burden on the research participants (e.g. social care professionals) and to recognise the importance of reciprocity in qualitative interviews (e.g. the interviewer being open about the research project);
  • The role of emotion, irrationality and power dynamics in social worlds and their impact on knowledge mobilisation and evaluations of knowledge mobilisation activities;
  • The importance of framing questions in constructive ways so that 'evaluation' can be seen by those being evaluated more as a process of open reflection (e.g. "What have you learnt that you would like to pass on to others?") than one of assessment ;
  • The importance of early framing of the research questions and parameters of the evaluation: What are we hoping to achieve? What will we value? How will we know when we have achieved it?

RURU plan to hold further events to build on these discussions. Please contact Huw Davies (hd@st-andrews.ac.uk) if you would be interested in attending future events.

What counts as good evidence?

The following two-part video was produced as a virtual keynote address for the Ontario Education Research Symposium, Canada (18-20 February, 2014). Sandra Nutley and Huw Davies were asked to talk about their provocation paper on 'What counts as good evidence?'. The paper is available at www.alliance4usefulevidence.org/assets/What-Counts-as-Good-Evidence-WEB.pdf.

Part A: Presentation (7:09)

Sandra Nutley provides an overview of the main points addressed in the provocation paper.

Part B: Discussion (8:39)

Huw Davies and Sandra Nutley discuss some of the key issues raised by the provocation paper.

The Politics of Co-production
A discussion day with RURU
Monday 25 November 2013
University of St Andrews

Following on from the RURU meeting in May 2013, which considered current understandings of research use, priorities for future research and practice development, the RURU meeting on 25 November focused on the co-production of research knowledge.

Our two speakers on the day drew from their experiences in practitioner and academic settings and both have a commitment to co-producing research: Kevin Orr, Professor of Management at the University of St Andrews, presented his reflections on co-production based on work he and Mike Bennett, Director of Public Intelligence and formerly Director General of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives have conducted in the last few years; Dr Neil Lunt, Reader in Social Policy and Public Sector Management at York University, also shared his experiences engaging in co-produced research. The day was facilitated by Sandra Nutley and Kevin Orr of RURU/ School of Management.

Themes and issues explored on the day included:

  • The potential impact of co-production on research and policy making and the challenges and opportunities that may arise;
  • The politics of co-production, e.g. to what extent do practitioners and academics hold distinctive perspectives and motivations?
  • How does the relationship between researchers develop and how do co-producers manage their loyalties to each other and to their respective organisations?
  • How do the multiplicity of voices and interests within the one ‘research team’ come to be represented in research accounts?
  • Does co-production privilege academics by involving practitioners only on academics’ terms, or does the price of access and influence – and future commissions! - dilute academic independence?
  • What are the reflexive dynamics of academic-practitioner co-produced research and how do these impact upon the work?

For more information about this event please contact Tricia Tooman: trt@st-andrews.ac.uk.

For a summary of the day, go to RURU Mini-symposium on co-producing academic-practitioner research PDF.

RURU mini-symposium, St Andrews, November 2013

Conference organisers in Australia choose a quote from Using Evidence to inspire their delegates.

The organisers of the 2013 Primary Health Care Research & Information Service Conference chose a quote from Using Evidence (Nutley, Walter and Davies, 2007) when designing their conference satchel. They report that it did the trick and there was indeed 'lots of face-to-face interactions with delegates from both the research and policy sectors'.

Understanding research use - mini-symposium May 2013

Twenty researchers and practitioners concerned with improving research use gathered in St Andrews on 21 May 2013 for a RURU mini-symposium on ‘Understanding research use: how far have we got and where should we be heading?’

Participants from a variety of disciplines and sectors, including three visitors from overseas, brought a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the discussion. Download a short report of the day (PDF 36KB).

There was a lot of enthusiasm for a follow-up meeting in November 2013. This meeting is likely to focus on three inter-linked themes:

  • The Politics of our knowledge exchange/mobilisation practices - and how we can navigate these
  • The changing and challenging roles of Universities as they embrace knowledge exchange
  • Exploring the diversity and legitimacy of research use, influence and impact.

RURU mini-symposium, May 2013

Curling up with a good book
A Canadian cat (GoGo) and her guardians are finding that Using Evidence (Nutley, Walter and Davies, 2007) provides a good foundation for their work (and dreams). 

See editorial by  David Phipps, Director of Research Services & Knowledge Exchange at York University, Toronto: http://researchimpact.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/how-are-you-using-evidence/

Members of RURU (Nutley, Powell and Davies) have written a 'provocation paper' for the Alliance for Useful Evidence on 'What counts as good evidence?'.
You can download this free of charge from the Alliance website here.
Huw Davies has also written an associated blog.

Knowledge mobilisation approaches used in health, social care and education. 
Members of RURU (Davies, Nutley and Powell) have recently been awarded funding for an 18 month research project on knowledge mobilisation approaches used in health care (in the UK and internationally) and in social care and education in the UK.  The 18 month project is funded by the NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will run from January 2013.  In brief, the aim of the study is to pull together and make available the learning from knowledge mobilisation approaches used at the ‘macro level’ (i.e. approaches used by research funders, major research producers and key research intermediaries). We are defining ‘knowledge mobilisation’ approaches broadly as approaches designed to increase the use and impact of research-based knowledge.
Further details here. (pdf)

The project website can be found here: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/business/km-study/

See Huw Davies' and Sandra Nutley's article for the Impact of Social Science blog: Knowledge mobilisation: new insights for theory and practice.

Sandra Nutley has been appointed to the ESRC's Evaluation Committee and will take up this role in September 2012. The Evaluation Committee is responsible for advising the ESRC Council on the quality and impact of its investments and on corporate strategy. It also leads the Council's work on developing methods for the evaluation of impact, and oversees its international benchmarking reviews.

In 2012, Huw Davies was appointed to an external role working with the Australian National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) commissioning a suite of six ‘Partnership Centres’ to combine research production and application for health systems. He sits on both the International Expert Review Panel and the International Scientific Advisory Panel guiding this substantial initiative (the total investment here will be around A$70 million).

On 29th May 2012, Sandra Nutley delivered the opening keynote address at the Campbell Colloboration 2012 Colloquium in Copenhagen. This was also an opportunity for Sandra to be formally presented with the Campbell Collaboration's 2011 Robert Boruch Award. This annual award recognises individuals who have made an important contribution to research that informs public policy.

The presentation was made by Merete Konnerup, Senior Advisor, Trygfonden Foundation, Denmark

Huw Davies has written a piece for the Impact of Social Science blog:
"When contextualised, research has the power to animate, inform, empower or infuriate" (February 2012).

In April 2011 Huw Davies was an invited International Panel Expert for a strategic institutional review of the health care research components of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. This involved a one week site visit, over 40 interviews and the review of 40 research groupings.

In 2008-10 Huw Davies was appointed Director of Knowledge Mobilisation for the NIHR SDO Programme (the largest funder of health management research in the UK). The brief was to ensure proper application of SDO-funded research (a c.£10 million research investment p.a.), and this was promoted by devising and implementing a Knowledge Mobilisation Strategy that was funded to c.£3 million over 3 years and delivered through the NHS Confederation. During this period Huw also acted as commissioner for NIHR for a programme of research on managers’ use of evidence in the NHS. Twelve projects totalling some £3.5 million were commissioned in open competition.