Budgeting for Knowledge Translation

Tips, Tools & Life Hacks

CHI KT Platform
Jan 15 · 7 min read

Consider Your Scale

The most important factor to consider when building your KT budget is (not surprisingly) the total amount of money you have (or expect to receive) from funders. Although this seems logical, being very clear and honest with yourself up front can be difficult. However, it will help you rein in your expectations for KT outputs. I mention this because a common request we get goes something like: “I want to create five unique infographics! We’ll highlight them on our new website! And people can access them from our custom-made app!”

Consider Your Activities

The money you reserve for your KT activities will vary depending on their type and scope, but there are a few common elements to consider:

Personnel/Human Resources

Have you adequately accounted for this? Almost all dissemination activities require somebody to “do” the KT. Will it be a knowledge broker, project coordinator, or research assistant hired as part of the grant? Or would you prefer to contract the work to external vendors such as a graphic design firm or your local SPOR SUPPORT Unit? Have you considered the expenses for various phases of the KT strategy (e.g. synthesis, exchange, dissemination, and application)? Don’t forget about small, but time-consuming tasks, like creating and editing drafts, formatting images or documents, and printing and assembling materials.

Public, Patient & Stakeholder Engagement

Regardless of which stage of the process you embark on engagement, it takes time and money to properly and meaningfully engage people in your research. Luckily, our KT platform has a brand new budgeting tool to help you plan for these costs. Check out Trish’s post on how to use CHI’s new patient and public engagement budgeting tool for guidance in developing an inclusive and meaningful engagement budget.

Creation of Knowledge Products

Whether it’s infographics (Pat has an intro to this topic in Infographics: A Primer for Researchers), policy briefs, lay summaries, podcasts, webpages, whiteboard videos, mobile apps or more, make sure that you consider not only the cost associated with each, but also the quality that you are able to produce. A few theory-driven, evidence-based, and stakeholder-championed tools are worth more than a hundred shiny bells and whistles that nobody asked for in the first place. KT tools should be planned (using theory and evidence!) to reflect a reasonable balance of your budget and the impact you believe they can have (i.e. — practicality meets rigor).

Traditional Dissemination

Sometimes we get caught up in new and exciting dissemination technologies (Infographics! Whiteboard videos! Podcasts!) and forget to consider the costs of some of the more traditional (but still valuable) research dissemination strategies. Have you accounted for costs associated with publishing, travel to conferences, and poster printing?

Implementation & Evaluation

Although this is technically a combination of all four considerations listed above, it’s one that is so valuable it needs its own shout out. It is so easy to fall into the common trap of spending all of your time and money on creating a series of new KT dissemination tools, without planning for how you will actually distribute them or evaluate their impact. The most beautifully designed and perfectly crafted infographic will not be effective if you’ve left no space for working with the stakeholders who need to champion it to their leadership or promote it within their communities, or if you haven’t budgeted for personnel to manage the webpage where it’s hosted and track the metrics of its use. These critical elements of the KT process should be adequately reflected in your budget.

Consider a KT Contingency Fund

If you don’t feel like you have the information available to make specific budget allocations for KT activities up front (particularly in cases where dissemination and KT are to be informed by stakeholders — such as integrated KT), consider implementing either a blanket line item in your overall budget (for example — 5% of overall costs), or a contingency fund for unforeseen KT activities (for example — 15% of your existing KT budget). A blanket line item is more appropriate when your project is heavily KT-oriented and you can’t feasibly cost out every possible KT activity — instead it may be simpler to say that a certain percent of the total budget will go towards covering the expenses, overhead, and coordination of KT-related activities.

Ways to Save

With an ever-increasing demand for KT and innovative dissemination tools, coupled with a (seemingly) ever-decreasing amount of funding dollars, we at the George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI) have come up with a series of ingenious ways to work on a tight KT budget. Read on for a few of our favourite “KT Hacks.”

Freebies

There are a million and one unique and (often) expensive programs, apps and tools out there for use in KT activities, but many of them have a free version (or at least one you can trial until you determine what your needs truly are). Ages ago I explored this in my top 5 Free Sites for Knowledge Brokers, and I still use most of these sites in my work today.

A Little Help from My Friends

If you want to hire personnel to manage and implement your KT activities, but aren’t quite sure that you can justify the cost of a full-time staff member, consider collaborating with another researcher, program, or network to cost share. The skills and expertise required for the role of a knowledge broker can generally be translated between more than one project. So why not find another researcher with similar needs and join forces to hire the perfect person for you both?

The Youth are Alright

In the past, we’ve reached out to design colleges, high schools and community groups to identify students and youth looking for work experience or simply interested in engaging in the health sector around creative projects. This has led to some of the most inspired and powerful design and arts-based dissemination and design products I’ve ever seen including logos, videos and photography. Don’t forget to credit and compensate them appropriately (see my earlier mention of how to budget for this style of engagement). Having said this, make sure someone on your team has the necessary expertise to provide strategic guidance and oversee the development of any tools — students often have great technical skill, but may lack the necessary experience to take your infographic from pretty design to effective KT tool.


About the Author

Carly Leggett is the Manager and Practice Lead for the Knowledge Translation platform at the George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI), as well as Knowledge Broker for Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids (TREKK).

KnowledgeNudge

Publishing bi-weekly, we focus on all things knowledge translation (KT) – synthesis, exchange, application & dissemination – from a health perspective. Topics include the science of KT, patient engagement, and media & dissemination.

CHI KT Platform

Written by

Know-do gaps. Integrated KT. Patient & public engagement. KT research. Multimedia tools & dissemination. And the occasional puppy.

KnowledgeNudge

Publishing bi-weekly, we focus on all things knowledge translation (KT) – synthesis, exchange, application & dissemination – from a health perspective. Topics include the science of KT, patient engagement, and media & dissemination.