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.

KsinR context-pic

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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Banking your knowledge for others:

An interview with Benjamin Samson from the International Rice Research  Institute (IRRI) on the KSinR Pilot Project – ‘Knowledge Management Harmonizing Research Output’

Communication is important. And how to do it. Leaflets? DVDs? Workshops?

But, regardless of method, something that should never be overlooked is the message.

Ben Samson has been thinking about all of this as Project Leader for a project working with rice farmers in Laos funded by the CGIAR Knowledge Sharing in Research Project.

“The situation we have in northern Laos is that farmers, because there is very little arable land, are constrained to grow crops on sloping areas,” he says. “Because they are cropping on sloping areas that are much more susceptible to soil erosion, the fertility of the soil rapidly decreases. You may get a good crop this year, but crop yields will be much less in the succeeding years. Typically farmers will only use land for one year. That’s the old system.

But, while working on these issues in Laos, Ben has seen the length of time during which land is left to rest decline. He thinks that it is now beginning to cause problems.

Rice farmers in the northern uplands of Laos

Rice farmers in the northern uplands of Laos

Because of increasing populations and government policy, the length of time in which land goes back into resting periods – or fallow periods – has decreased. What used to be 21 years is now only three years. That is amazing.”

Now the rice farmers in Laos – the poorest of the poor – have been forced to year-in-year-out use sloping lands that are difficult to farm.

There are agricultural researchers, scientists and government extension workers who can help. But there was a problem.

We used to write papers and report, conduct training, transfer to extension,” says Ben. “But when we evaluated the problem we realised that those that were carrying out research were writing in a way that the extension people didn’t understand. And even if the extension agents did understand it, they didn’t know how to express it in such a way that the farmers would be able to understand it. So we recognised that there is a difference in ‘language’ between the various groups involved in transmitting technologies to farmers.

The team decided to pilot a way of adding on to an existing  ‘knowledge bank’ of information in order to help farmers and government extension workers gain better understanding and access of the knowledge contained within the bank. They knew that they would have to be careful about how everything was phrased and said was a key issue towards understanding and usage of knowledge.

The issues for the project were how to get researchers to write for the knowledge bank in such a way that when extension people accessed it, they would understand it,” says Ben. “And, further, how to get the extension workers to use the knowledge bank. So those were the problems we were dealing with.

So with help from the Knowledge Sharing in Research project’s grant that was

Stakeholders at first Laos Rice Knowledge Bank meeting

awarded to IRRI, Ben was able to get everyone together to talk- the extension workers, the scientists, educators—all in one room. The idea was to identify the needs of the farmers and extension workers and then for the researchers to tailor their knowledge so it would be of the most use.

Stakeholders at first Laos Rice Knowledge Bank meeting

That was the whole scheme of this project,” he says. “It was very simple. Get them together and get them to write for the knowledge bank in concert with each other so that they agree that the material coming out is first of all useful and second of all is understandable.

EXample of one of the fact sheets prepared by the Pilot Project from rice reseacrh results-in Lao

Example of one of the fact sheets prepared by the Pilot Project from rice reseacrh results-in Lao

Ben thinks that knowledge sharing and his experience through the Knowledge Sharing in Research project will inform they way he works in the future.

What will become part of my work in the future is the impetus to make better use of the knowledge that we generate through research by making use of various knowledge sharing techniques that I have experienced using and have heard others talk about in the KSinR projects,” says Ben. “I think everyone wants to be able to make a difference in other people’s lives. I come from an academic background where writing and publishing about my work are valued activities, but these tools and methods that I have used and come in contact with make the results of my work more accessible to the people who can use it and improve their lives using it. I work in Laos and I see what it is like for people to try to survive on the meagre resources. It behoves me to try to find ways to make a difference.

This is one way I am making a difference – helping people have access to knowledge they can use through banking knowledge in a good way

For more information and outputs from this project-see the IRRI Research outputs harmonisation KSinR Pilot Project page

The April-June 2009 issue Rice Today contains a great article about rice science in the digital age.

The story essentially introduces some of the pathways used by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to maximise the accessibility of its research outputs.

These include adoption of a creative commons licence and publishing on several platforms – Google Books, Flickr, and YouTube. A presentation by IRRI’s Gene Hettel ‘Adopting and Utilizing Creative Commons to Facilitate the Dissemination of Rice Knowledge and Technology’, available on slideshare gives a vivid insight into IRRI’s approach to licensing and shows examples from the different platforms.

Congratulations to our colleagues in IRRI for moving forward the agenda of putting research in the hands of those who need it most!

Thanks to Peter Ballantyne for bringing this article to my attention

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. 

 

The Institutional Knowledge Sharing project is supporting three pilot activities in three CGIAR centers in order to contribute to institutional innovation, and learn about the effectiveness of KS approaches. Two of the pilots have now made available their products.
 
“Recovering from natural disasters” A ‘Storymercial’ by WorldFish
“The storymercial is e a combination of video, audio and images.  At the heart of the storymercial is the story; the oldest most proven way humans learn and remember information.” says Helen Leitch, Project Leader. “Despite a huge investment in communications, awareness of the CGIAR Centers’ work and contribution to development is often low. Since knowledge products with more mass appeal are needed, this project examined the role storymercials can play to attract our donors and partners to knowledge, thus increasing the uptake of research outputs”.  Have a look at: http://www.worldfishcenter.org/v2/rehabilitate%20livelihoods.html

Best Practices in Research data Management (IRRI)
“There is still little experience in using wiki technology within CGIAR. The openness and visibility of a wiki is often seen as a risk, rather than an opportunity for increased participation and collaboration in communities of practice.” states Thomas Metz, Project Leader. This project developed, collected, recorded, and applied good practices in research data management, and initiated a communities of practice for research data managers.  It is enabling scientists to produce better quality research and release their primary data as global public goods that will be available and usable for future secondary use. See the wiki at: http://cropwiki.irri.org/everest/

More to come soon…