Intro to Knowledge Mobilization

Knowledge Mobilization (KM) is the process of moving knowledge from formal research projects into active use. It is an iterative and interactive process of sharing of knowledge between research producers and users including policy professionals, decision-makers and communities from beginning to end - during project development, operation and interpretation. The most effective mobilization involves a close association of researchers and practitioners with co-creation intentions and methods.

A central mandate of the Global Waters Futures (GWF) Program is to design user solutions to address real world water and climate challenges. Explicit in these objectives is robust engagement with a diverse end-user community. To assist in successful KM, GWF has assembled a KM Core Team to foster best-practices and innovation in researcher-practitioner co-creation which will lead to policy advancements and positive social change for water science and management in Canada.

Strategies and Best Practices

Co-production, collaboration and dissemination of knowledge between researchers and practitioners working towards solutions to real-world water and climate challenges are at the core of knowledge mobilization. The strategies and best practices that the GWF KM Core team encourages and provides support for are: 

  • The creation of transdisciplinary project teams, through positive and trusting relationships between researchers and practitioners. Projects should be designed with the intended audience to meet their needs. It is critical to recognize that practitioners and decision-makers have practical experience, information and content to add to the research.

  • Engagement in KM throughout the entire project timeline. KM should be built into the research design through advance agreements among the team members. It is critical that end-users are a part of setting expectations, timelines, and deliverables of the project.

  • The creation of opportunities for active, inclusive and iterative communication between team members and partners. The team must determine how different user communities normally collect, evaluate and use knowledge and how they communicate with each other in order to use preferred communication channels.

  • Increasing mutual understanding by limiting the use of jargon, translating technical terms into plain-language or terms compatible for non-academic needs.

  • Ensuring dual accountability for KM within the team, between researchers and practitioners. Ideas and information must flow in all directions. Changes to the project’s scope and/or timing are negotiated within the team, and partners should participate in critical direction changes. 

GWF Guiding Documents

These guidance documents outline GWF’s knowledge mobilization mandate, strategy, expectations, and the operations of the KM Core team.

The KM Strategy outlines the expectations to ensure that project commitment to KM is clear, tangible and continuous throughout the project life cycles.

The CFREF White Paper defines KM, identifies the necessity of KM, and outlines best practices in the field.

The GWF KM Core Team Inception Report provides information on the purpose and vision of KM and the Core Team, KM strategies and best practices, the KM Core Team’s project-level and program-level support and services.

KM Core Team

The GWF KM Core Team is an advisory body that provides oversight, advice, and support for KM initiatives of GWF-funded projects. The KM specialists focus on assisting project investigators, researchers and staff to succeed in their stated KM goals, while also identifying and creating opportunities to facilitate and develop KM capacity across the GWF network.

The Team


KM Champions Network

The KM Champions Network is composed of nominated individuals (researchers, HQPs, graduate students) from each GWF project who meet  for regular KM related discussions, updates, and training.

The network:

  • Increases awareness across GWF projects
  • Identifies collaborative science and engagement opportunities across projects
  • Identifies and explores project-level challenges and solutions that may be common across   projects
  • Enables KM capacity building for champions that will diffuse to the broader research team
  • Identifies project initiatives that KM specialists may be needed to assist
  • Identifies case studies for sharing to the GWF network, and beyond

The KM network will be meeting approximately monthly via conference call or WebEx. KM Core Team staff will be responsible for coordinating, setting agendas and chairing each meeting and will assume responsibility for the effective operations of the Network.

Nominations to join the KM Champions Network will begin in June 2018.

KM Services for Research Teams

The KM Core Team has been assembled to provide oversight, advice, and support to GWF projects for their knowledge mobilization initiatives and can provide various types of services including assistance with:

  • Planning your project or initiative to ensure mechanisms for two-way communication and participation are in place with your partners

  • Identifying different strategies to exchange knowledge and disseminate findings within your research team, with partners, and broader audiences

  • Facilitating events, committees, and meetings that bring together your research team, partners and collaborators

  • Connecting you with synergistic opportunities with other GWF research projects and potential new practitioners, water managers and decision-makers that can use your research

  • Developing decision-support products that are informed by users and designed with audiences in mind (i.e., design and delivery of virtual decision labs, participatory modelling, briefs, newsletters, etc.)

  • Providing KM training for capacity building within your team, including students and young professionals

  • Tracking and evaluating progress of your knowledge mobilization activities

  • Sharing the successes of your research impact

 Our knowledge mobilization specialists based at each partner institution are available to discuss and assist in your knowledge mobilization needs.

KM Resources for Projects

We are continually developing KM process and product templates that can be shared and adapted for project use. Let us know if you would like to see something specific!

From the Community of Practice

The Canadian Water Network:

Integration and Implementation Insights:

Climate Outreach, Communications Handbook for IPCC Scientists:

From the Science of Team Science 

Bielak, Alex, Andrew Campbell, Shealagh Pope, Karl Schaefer, and Louise Shaxson. "From Science Communication to Knowledge Brokering: the Shift from ‘Science Push’ to ‘Policy Pull’." In Communicating Science in Social Contexts: New models, new practices, edited by Donghong Cheng, Michel Claessens, Toss Gascoigne, Jenni Metcalfe, Bernard Schiele, and Shunke Shi, 201-226. Dordecht: Springer, 2008. 

Cash, David, William Clark, Frank Alcock, Nancy Dickson, Noelle Eckley and Jill Jager. "Salience, Credibility, Legitimacy and Boundaries: Linking Research, Assessment and Decision Making."  IDEAS Working Paper Series from RePEc (2002). 

Mâsse, Louise, Richard Moser, Daniel Stokols, Brandie Taylor, Stephen Marcus, Glen Morgan, Kara Hall, Robert Croyle, and William Trochim. “Measuring Collaboration and Transdisciplinary Integration in Team Science.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35, no. 2 (2008): S151-S160.

McKean, Matthew. Beyond Citations: Knowledge Mobilization, Research Impact, and the Changing Nature of Academic Work. The Conference Board of Canada, 2016.

Schaefer, Karl and Alex Bielak. “Linking Water Science to Policy: Results from a Series of National Workshops on Water.” Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 113, no. 1-3 (2006): 431-442. DOI: 10.1007/s10661-005-9093-5

Shaxson, Louise, Alex Bielak, Ibrahim Ahmed, Derek Brien, Bernadette Conant, Catherine Fisher, Elin Gwyn, Laurens Klerkx, Anne Middleton, Sarah Morton, Laxmi Pant, and David Phipps. Expanding our understanding of K*(KT, KE, KTT, KMb, KB, KM, etc.) A concept paper emerging from the K* conference held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, April 2012. Hamilton, ON: UNUINWEH, 2012.

Wall, Tamara, Alison Meadow and Alexandra Horganic. “Developing Evaluation Indicators to Improve the Process of Coproducing Usable Climate Science.” Weather, Climate and Society 9, no.1 (2017): 95-107.


Coming soon!