What is the value-added of KS in research, and what approaches can work? Nadia Manning-Thomas of ICT-KM shared her work relating to integration of KS into research processes in order to improve impact. KS must be at the core of the way we work with our partners and stakeholders.
The typical research cycle has dissemination as an “event” at the end of research outputs, usually via publication in traditional scientific journals. This assumes that knowledge will somehow trickle down to farm-level practices.
Research institutes could achieve greater impact if KS is integrated directly into the research process. To effectively do this, we need to understand that knowledge sharing is multi-directional, involves active engagement and interaction, and is ultimately about learning. There are many points within the research cycle where certain activities could be modified to improve impact, without adding significant cost or effort. However, some key challenges must be addressed: how do we persuade researchers to invest in KS? And what incentives does a farmer have to share their information with researchers? Researchers need to start building communications into the front-end of the research process, i.e. include it in their proposal design. And in order to obtain farmer participation, they need to see that the research activities are benefiting them, either directly (i.e. improved fertilizer techniques) or indirectly (prestige of having participated in a research project).
Nadia gave examples from the CG centres, including the ICARDA-led International Farmers’ Conference and the IWMI wastewater project (WASPA). Specific KS methods and tools used in these processes include
- outcome mapping to plan research, and monitoring & evaluation together with key stakeholders
- using the Most Significant Change approach to identify impacts together with stakeholders
- using World Café to identify research priorities
Rather than viewing KS as a one-time event, and packaging valuable research into unread technical documents, we need to shift our thinking about KS as an ongoing process, without which research will have only minimal impact. By sharing knowledge we can also more effectively glean important local knowledge and therefore produce more effective research.