Problem: How to make research more accessible and useable to those trying to work on solutions to homelessness.Conventional methods of knowledge dissemination have not been especially effective at reaching key decision makers.The model for publishing and disseminating academic research is in need of an update.
Why’s that?Let’s just take a look at traditional academic publishing:Researchers see their role as the CREATOR of the CONTENTSomeone else then handles the publication and dissemination of the workThe Publisher handles the formatting and design with no real input from the content creator.Intended audience is other academics + students.
Strengths – peer review processLimitations – barriers to access – technical language, many users have limited (or non-existent) access to university librariesPotential end users in the policy and practice world are left out of the conversation.Before we start talking about using design to influence research’s reach, let’s consider this:
By using design and adjusting the language, we can create a document that has the same information but is more accessible and therefore more useful to a broader range of people.Example: a major findings page of the State of Homelessness in Canada reportA lot of what we do is informed by the concept of design thinking.
Design thinking integrates collaboration between the content developers and those involved in the publishing and marketing sides of the publication, with the ultimate goal of increasing the impact of research.
Here are the key features of the CHRN’s approach to knowledge dissemination, as informed by design thinking.
Collaboration is key to the CHRN’s content creation process. To create the reports and books pictured here, we collaborated with researchers, service providers, government officials and people with lived experience. The CHRN’s team is also made up of people with a variety of skillsets, from researchers and writers to designers and communications specialists.
As I mentioned earlier, the peer review process is integral to academic publishing as it ensures a high quality output. The CHRN has instituted a rigorous blind review process to our papers and books. Unlike the barriers associated with traditional academic publishing, the CHRN’s research is guided by an ‘open access’ policy in the hopes of increasing it’s reach.
Shorter pieces of content highlight the key messagesThe report is available for those who want to go deeper
Understanding our knowledge mobilization efforts’ impact on policy and practice is quite challenging, but it is also of great importance. We use Google Analytics to track visitors and content downloads on the Homeless Hub and to gain a better understanding of the type of content our audience is in search of. These types of metrics don’t help us understand if a particular report had created a change in policy or practice, but this is research that we plan to undertake in the near future.
accessible, understandable, useable and
relevant to interested individuals, groups
and institutions working to generate
effective solutions to homelessness.
• Academic researchers do the creation
• Academic institutions do the rewarding
• Publishing – including production,
design, distribution – is handled by
• Strengths: peer review
• Limitations: barriers to access for
What is design thinking?
DESIGN THINKING integrates collaborative
processes of knowledge & content development
with a more assertive involvement in different
aspects of publishing (and modes of publication)
design, marketing, communications &
ULTIMATE GOAL: Increase the impact of research.