SSHRC Insight: Knowledge Mobilization Plan and Intended Outcomes

Those of you deep in the application form might be wondering what these 2 sections are and how they differ.

The Knowledge Mobilization Plan is the concrete things you will do to get the results of your research out to the people who need to know them.

The Intended Outcomes is the difference knowing what you know is going to make to those people.

Key to both sections is having a good sense of the specific audiences for your research. You are making a contribution to knowledge. Whose knowledge? How do they learn about new things (like your research results)? Why are they interested?

Primary audience: Other scholars in your field

Yes, despite all the talk about widening impact, relevance, etc. SSHRC’s mandate is still to fund academic research. You are being adjudicated by peers in your discipline. They care about the contribution to debates in your field.

What is the contribution you will make? What do you think doing the research you want to do will mean for the debates in your field? This needs to be in the Intended Outcomes (and ideally your objectives).

The usual strategy for making that contribution is publication in refereed journals or with a scholarly press. You will also present your findings to scholarly conferences. Be specific. Which journals and conferences will reach the specific audience within your discipline that is interested in these questions?

Secondary audience: Other scholars

Yes, the first step in widening the impact of your research is to think beyond your specific field to cognate disciplines or interdisciplinary areas. Are there specific debates that would benefit from a contribution from your field? What would that contribution look like?

Again, the Knowledge Mobilization Plan for these specific audiences will be journal publications and conference presentations. This might be something one of your research assistants is more interested in and could take the lead on, especially if this is their main field.

Non-academic audiences

No one cares if you reach a mass audience, so don’t worry about how many non-academics might be interested in your work or might find it useful. Identify specific audiences — practitioners, policy makers, members of the general public, whatever.

The key thing here is that they don’t care about the same thing as other academics. For example, practitioners are less concerned with the theoretical insights and more interested in the practical implications of your findings for how they do their work.

Try to clarify the Intended Outcomes for each specific audience. Will knowing about your findings improve their practice? Change the way they think about important issues relevant to their work or life? What?

Then think about how this audience learns new things. Do they read articles in a magazine, perhaps one put out by their professional association? Do they attend workshops? Would they be looking for this information actively? Or do you need to find a way to persuade them that this will be interesting and/or helpful to them?

Your Knowledge Mobilization Plan should be appropriate to the specific audience you want to reach.

Be realistic

You should stretch yourself. Aim for the best appropriate journal. Plan to attend at least one international conference. Try reaching out to an audience you haven’t really disseminated things to before.

But keep your focus. Most of your effort is going to be on the first audience. None of your peers want second rate research influencing other disciplines or practice out there in the so-called real world.

Taking sensible steps to expand the audience for your work is much more important than having grand plans that you don’t have the resources to achieve. Also vague grand plans are not going to be taken seriously by the adjudicators.

Make sure you budget for all these activities. If you plan to run a workshop for practitioners, you’d better have a budget for that.

You don’t have to do all the work yourself. Is it more effective to learn to write and place articles in mainstream media yourself? Or can you build a strong relationship with a journalist who will write about your work?

Maximize the impact of the activities you do undertake. Does it make sense for you to run a workshop for frontline workers? Or could you design a train-the-trainers style event that gets your findings into the hands/heads of people who will take that back and train frontline workers where they are?

Got questions?

Ask them in the comments.