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Evaluation of a Research-to-Policy Communication Pilot for SFU Graduate Trainees

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The SFU Knowledge Mobilization Hub seeks to improve the capacity of researchers to mobilize their work and have a positive impact on the real world. We piloted a training initiative, Research Meets Policy (RMP) @SFU inspired by Science Meets Parliament. We used contribution analysis and outcome mapping from Matter of Focus to evaluate the program. The pilot project and findings are presented here using the outcome map steps.

Background: Researchers are increasingly seeking policy engagement and impact as an important aspect of knowledge translation. This is because informing policy and political discourse is often a starting point for research impact and conceptualizing new research innovations. However, many researchers are not trained in how to communicate with and engage policy audiences. To address this training gap, the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Knowledge Mobilization Hub piloted a new initiative aimed at senior graduate trainees and post-doctoral fellows focused on research-to-policy communication skill development.

Methods: Research Meets Policy @ Simon Fraser University (RMP@SFU) – a virtual weeklong summer institute run in July, 2021 – included four core workshops on integral aspects of the research-to-policy communication continuum, capped off with a demonstration of learning and networking session. Each workshop included co-presentations by and co-engagement with a faculty member with directly relevant research-to-policy expertise and a member of the policy community. The pilot was informed by contribution analysis and utilized OutNav.

Findings: The training met our objectives in terms of participants, engagement, and experience. Areas for improvement include scaffolding of learning activities, more experiential learning and feedback. The return on investment, such as RMP Fellows engaging in policy communication activities, has exceeded expectations.

Conclusion: The program was a success, with minor modifications as identified in the evaluation, it should be run again at SFU and the core structure shared with other institutions interested in running a similar program.
Presented at KT Canada Scientific Meeting, 2022
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