Engagement and Impact

Part of RUN resource guide

Knowledge Translation defined

The World Health Organisation defines Knowledge Translation (KT) as: “The synthesis, exchange, and application of knowledge by relevant stakeholders to accelerate the benefits of global and local innovation in strengthening health systems and improving people’s health.” (http://www.who.int/ageing/projects/knowledge_translation/en/ opens in a new window)

Knowledge Translation can mean different things to different people and can be applied across various discipline areas. Fundamentally it is about putting research knowledge into practice. It provides an opportunity for end-users to be consulted and involved in the research process from the beginning ensuring the outcomes are relevant to their needs and can be applied in a meaningful and practical way in the shortest possible time.

Knowledge Translation Australia provides this succinct definition: “getting the right information, to the right people, at the right time, and in a format they can use, so as to influence decision making” (https://www.ktaustralia.com/#What opens in a new window).


Other terms

Knowledge Translation can also be known as:

knowledge mobilization, knowledge transfer, knowledge exchange or engaged scholarship

Types of Knowledge Translation

  • Knowledge is gathered collaboratively between researchers and end-users.
  • End of grant - research outcomes are presented to Industry or community outside of academia to solve a real world problem at the end of a research project.
  • Dissemination based KT - research outcomes are disseminated to Industry and the community outside of academia to solve a recognised problem or issue.
  • Stakeholder engagement KT - commences with a collaboration with Industry to solve an issue or problem with a view to provide a solution integrated-undertaken at the commencement of the research to solve a real world problem.

Characteristics of KT

Sudsawad (2007) summarizes the characteristics of KT as the following:

  • KT includes all steps between the creation of new knowledge and its application

  • KT needs multidirectional communications

  • KT is an interactive process

  • KT requires ongoing collaborations among relevant parties

  • KT includes multiple activities

  • KT is a nonlinear process

  • KT emphasizes the use of research- generated knowledge ( that may be used in conjunction with other types of knowledge)

  • KT involves diverse knowledge-user groups

  • KT is user and context-specific

  • KT is impact-orientated

  • KT is an interdisciplinary process

http://ktdrr.org/ktlibrary/articles_pubs/ktmodels/ opens in a new window


  • Identification of key messages for different target audiences

  • Accuracy and relevance

  • knowledge organisation

Azimi, A., Fattahi, R., & Asadi-Lari, M. 2015, Knowledge translation status and barriers, Journal of the Medical Library Association. 103 (2) 96-99. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4404863/ opens in a new window

Engaged Scholarship

Engaged Scholarship –making the link between practice and theory.

Barge & Shockley-Zalabak (2008) define engaged scholarship "as a form of collaborative inquiry between academics and practitioners that leverages their different perspective to generate useful organizational knowledge", it "also evokes a different kind of working relationship with stakeholders that is aimed at developing theoretical and practical knowledge". Bowen & Graham (2013) add that "It's based on the belief that high quality, more relevant search results from true collaboration and from integrating the diverse perspectives of multiple stakeholders".


5 strategies (Van de Ven and Johnson 2006)

  • design research projects that address big questions or problems that are grounded in reality
  • design the research project to be a collaborative learning community
  • design the study for an extended duration
  • employ multiple models and methods to study the problem
  • investigators should reflect on their assumptions about scholarship and the roles of researchers


Key components: (Van de Ven and Johnson 2006)

  • understand that engaged scholarship is a collaborative form of research that addresses real-world problems
  • create a team that provides a diversity of academics and practitioners with complementary in designing, conducting and implementing research in real-world settings
  • clarify roles, responsibilities and expectations
  • establish regular communication
  • develop respect and trust for all participants
  • understand that time is critical in building relationships and trust
  • conduct research that systematically examines not only alternative models and theories but alternative practical formulations of the question of interest
  • frame research and its findings to contribute knowledge to academic disciplines and to one or more domains of practice
  • recognise the cost of all partners
  • develop strategies for arbitrating between diverse and conflicting perspectives


Further assumptions (Meynes, G. 2018 Teaching Resource1_EI From Engagement to Impact):

  • recognises that other kinds of evidence, besides research, can support decision making

  • knowledge brokering as an organisational process (integral to research rather than an ‘add-on’ external role
  • knowledge must now be ‘socially robust’ as well as 'scientifically valid’
  • research is driven by issues of concern to the larger society (rather than individual curiosity enacted in disciplinary silos)
  • research should become transdisciplinary and issue-driven, producing results that respond to societal needs


Knowledge Exchange

“If research is to be used, it must answer important questions of concern to knowledge users, and it must be integrated with contextual evidence in order to become actionable in a specific setting. This can only be accomplished if there is genuine participation of knowledge users from the beginning of the research process.” (Bowen & Graham, 2013 p.57)


CQUniversity's Enterprise Agreement clause 14.8 defines ....

  1. “Scholarship of learning and teaching related work includes, but is not limited to:
  2. Any research or other work that directly informs the academic's teaching and curriculum development, including intramural service.
  3. Keeping abreast of current developments in the discipline field both nationally and internationally, sharing reflective teaching practice through presentations, publication and research on learning and teaching practice and theory and leading the introduction of new teaching approaches.
  4. Experimenting with and developing efficient and effective uses of technology for knowledge delivery.”


Research Impact Academy – Tamika Heiden - https://researchimpactacademy.com/#Our%20Services opens in a new window

Impact Toolkit – Economic and Social Research Council – UK - https://esrc.ukri.org/research/impact-toolkit/ opens in a new window

Knowedge Management toolkit: https://www.k4health.org/toolkits/km/about-km opens in a new window

Azimi, A., Fattahi, R., & Asadi-Lari, M. (2015), Knowledge translation status and barriers, Journal of the Medical Library Association. 103 (2) 96-99. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4404863/ opens in a new window

Sudsawad, P. (2007). Knowledge translation: Introduction to models, strategies, and measures. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research. http://ktdrr.org/ktlibrary/articles_pubs/ktmodels/ opens in a new window

Barge, JK & Shockley-Zalabak, P. (2008) Engaged Scholarship and the creation of useful organizational knowledge, Journal of Applied Communication Research, 36(3), 251-265, DOI: 10.1080/00909880802172277 opens in a new window

Bowen, SJ. & Graham, ID. (2013) From knowledge translation to engaged scholarship, promoting research relevance and utilization, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 94 (1 Supplement) S3-S8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2012.04.037 opens in a new window

Judith K. Shawcross & Tom W. Ridgman (2017) Linking practice and theory using Engaged Scholarship, European Journal of Engineering Education, DOI: 10.1080/03043797.2017.1405239 opens in a new window

Van de Ven, AH., & Johnson, PE., (2006) Knowledge for theory and practice, Academy of Management Review 31(4) 802-821, DOI 10.5465/AMR.2006.22527385 opens in a new window