Are you a researcher? Do you work in a research organisation, project or program? Are you looking for ways to better conduct your research for development, share knowledge, engage with stakeholders, and achieve impact?

To help answer those questions, visit Improving impact through knowledge sharing in researchthe newest context page to be recently added to the Knowledge Sharing Toolkit.  The new page offers people ideas, experiences and inspiration on recommended tools and methods to share knowledge during the research project cycle.

The Knowledge Sharing toolkit has consistently provided lots of information on tools and methods for knowledge sharing. However, it has been striving to make this information more relevant and accessible to people’s needs and situations.

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To help its visitors even better find what they are looking for or figure out what they may need and could use- a ‘What is your context?’ page was also developed.

The new context page on knowledge sharing in research-‘Improving impact through knowledge sharing in research‘- takes people right into the research process with a basic diagram of the research cycle and its key stages.

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These stages are presented as ‘entry points’ through which knowledge sharing approaches can be made use of to address certain shortcomings and limitations which traditional research may experience such as:

  1. a lack of inclusion of priorities, needs and realities from the ground
  2. inadequate use of other sources of knowledge in planning research
  3. poor collaboration with stakeholders during research activities
  4. limited understanding of how research results can most effectively be made use of
  5. ineffective ways of getting knowledge to target groups
  6. limited opportunities for learning within research process

To address these, the context page invites visitors to consider which stage of research they are in- and asking a key question related to improving that stage. The page then provides a list of suggested methods- both Online tools and Methods as well as Other Knowledge sharing Tools and Methods- to try out. These tools and methods are linked to other pages within the toolkit. Tags of related topics are also provided.

Example:

Stage 1: Identifying research (questions) to undertake

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This information has come out of the resources collected, knowledge generated and experiences of the recently concluded two-year CGIAR ICT-KM Program’s Knowledge Sharing in Research project (2007-2009). The framework on which this context page is based was developed and tested particularly through 6 Pilot Projects.

These Pilot Projects are all projects of CGIAR Centres or System-wide or Challenge Programs which proposed to pilot the use of various knowledge sharing approaches and principles in their activities. This included:Picture3

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  • The convening of a Farmers’ Conference to bring out the knowledge, experiences and needs of farmers to help in planning of activities of the Participatory Plant Breeding department at ICARDA005
  • The use of a learning alliance approach by the IWMI WASPA project to bring together relevant stakeholders to link research to action
  • The IRRI-lead Pilot Project worked with key stakeholders to 2009_01150033_resizeunderstand how to write and package research results from projects working on rice in the Northern uplands of Laos, and created factsheets which were uploaded into the Laos Rice Knowledge Bank (online tool)

The selection of tools for each of the stages of the research cycle is based on the results and experiences of these 6 Pilot Projects as well as other projects and other documented cases. Documentation of the Knowledge Sharing in Research project, its pilot projects and other activities  can be found on the Documentation and Outputs page of the KSinR website section.

But this is not a blue print approach and each research project needs to find what fits with its own context, needs and objectives–the tools presented in this context page are just some suggestions to help.

If you have also used knowledge sharing approaches in your research let us know what you have done and how it worked. If you try any of these suggested approaches out, also let us know how it worked. You make contributions to the Knowledge Sharing Toolkit to keep it a living and dynamic resource by signing up and adding your methods, ideas and experiences.

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Blueprinting priorities:

An interview with David Raitzer from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on the KSinR Pilot Project – ‘Shared learning to enhance research priority assessment practices’

Money is hard to come by – especially these days. So when you secure research funding you better be sure you know how to spend it. Can knowledge sharing help with that?

David Raitzer, from the Center for International Forestry Research(CIFOR) thought so, and applied for a grant from the Knowledge Sharing in Research project to try it out.

David has been heading up a project, which reflects on the research priority assessment experiences of twelve CGIAR centres, programmes and partners.  This is all to be shared with broader audiences via a CABI book to be released in July.CIFOR CABI Book flyer

Researchers can choose many things to study, but funds are limited and research for development should have impact for the poor and/or the environment,” says David “So it’s about how research managers consider what they could achieve with different uses of research resources. We are therefore interested in looking at the methods they use to do so and what lessons are offered to improve future attempts.”

Without some sort of analysis of impact potential, scientists tend to choose what they want to do based on curiosity and scientific salience, and they may not fully consider other factors that affect whether their outputs lead to beneficial changes on the ground. But when they have to go through a process of laying out different options and making explicit the assumptions necessary for impacts, impact culture can be strengthened.”

David says the book will serve a number of purposes, not least of all valuable knowledge sharing.

The ultimate goal of the book is to improve methods for evidence based decision-making in the centers about what research is pursued As one means to do so, we hope that this helps to illustrate to donors that the impact potential of research can be systematically assessed, and that these efforts can benefit from appropriate incentives, such as the alignment of funding decisions to assessment results,” he says.

The intended outcome is both to make donors aware of what the centres are doing to better prioritise research that will have an impact as well as to help those in the centers who are trying to assess priorities.”

David believes the book itself fills a knowledge gap. It allows research organisations to see what methods other organisations have used to inform decisions about what their research priorities should be.   But it also goes beyond the technical methods to the processes by which the methods are implemented, such as how assumptions are elicited from scientists and the interface between actual decisions about research priorities and the information offered by analytical exercises.  In so doing, it offers insights that cannot be found in prior texts on the topic.

These priority assessment methods are also knowledge sharing approaches in themselves. Tacit assumptions of scientists are made explicit, communicated to colleagues, refined and blended with external information.  Documented assumptions can then also be followed up with subsequent monitoring and evaluation. As a result, knowledge is not only shared, but is improved.”

Knowledge sharing can help in many ways when designing important and valuable blueprints for research-that will have an impact.

As part of the Knowledge Sharing in Research project grants were given out to 6 selected proposals for knowledge sharing activities or approaches to be undertaken.

One of these was put forward by David Raitzer of CIFOR on behalf of the System-wide Initiative on Priority Assessment entitled: ” Shared Learning to Enhance Research Priority Assessment Practices “.

This project proposed to bring together and share- using various knowledge sharing activities- a range of methods for research prioritization, which are in themselves a knowledge sharing activity by virtue of supporting Centres  to make explicit their knowledge, ideas, lessons and reasons about research to undertake.

One of the main results is the compilation of chapters based on many CGIAR and other organizations’ methods and experiences.

CABI is publishing this book, which will initially be on sale and then information will be available online.

A flyer—see image below– was recently developed and has been circulated to advertise this valuable resource which will soon be ready.

Watch this space for further announcements…cifor-cabi-book-flyer

This booklet summarizes the project achievements of the Institutional Knowledge Sharing project of the ICT-KM Program in the areas of:

  • Capacitiy builing, M&E and learning;
  • Strategies and change management;
  • Problem solving and good practices.

The booklet also tells the story of the three pilto projects that have been supported at CIFOR, IRRI, and WorldFish:

  • Transforming IRRI’s  research data into global public goods
  • The storymercial: Fishing for donor support and partnerships
  • Strategic planning at CIFOR

Download the booklet (850 kb)

The Institutional KS Project will exhibit the below poster at the Annual General Meeting (AGM08) of the CGIAR in Maputo early next month. The poster represents the project framework and examples of interventions and activities from the last two years. 

 

On Thursday 13th November David Raitzer from the Centre for International Foresty impact-assessment-workshop-brazil-08Research (CIFOR) will be presenting a session on “Prioritizing Agricultural Research for Development:Experience and Lessons from CGIAR” at the INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON METHODOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS IN IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH in Brasilia, November 12-14, 2008 at Embrapa Headquarters and Alvorada Brasilia Hotel.

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His session is based on the work being done through the Knowledge sharing in Research Pilot Project he is leading on behalf of the Systemwide consortium on priority assessment which has been trying to use knowledge sharing approaches to compile and share methods of priority assessment from various CGIAR and non-CGIAR groups and their experiences in using them.

The Pilot Project has been working on the following activities and approaches:

* Meetings to discuss method and experiences

* Compiling methods and experiences as chapters of a Compendium

* Virtual forum for reviewing and sharing comments on chapters

* Options for additional online availability of the Compendium content or wider sharing

Feby Litamahuputty participating in a River of Life activity

Feby Litamahuputty participating in a "River of Life" activity

There might be no other CGIAR center where knowledge sharing approaches have been more effectively adopted in face-to-face meetings then CIFOR, the Center for International Forestry Research.

Over the last year or so, CIFOR used knowledge sharing approaches for its strategic planning process, an activity sponsored by the Institutional Knowledge Sharing project as one of its three pilot projects.

“When a research organization embarks on a discussion of its mission and how to achieve it over an entire decade, it’s only natural to want such a strategic planning exercise to be creative, open, well-informed, and comprehensive. That means drawing heavily on the knowledge and experience of staff, trustees, and stakeholders. After all, a lot is riding on the outcome: the impact of research on the lives of the intended beneficiaries; contributions to the global knowledge base; scientists’ reputations; the stability and magnitude of future funding; and in some instances the very survival of the institution.”