Writing Knowledge Translation Into a Grant Proposal
By Carly Leggett
Your funding application asks you to outline your plans for knowledge translation, exchange, dissemination or all of the above — now what??
The requirements for knowledge translation (KT) planning in grant applications can vary in length and depth — some may call for a simple paragraph or two while others will require a full and comprehensive KT strategy.
Regardless of the length, however, there are a few must-haves for convincing reviewers that you have thought through your approach to KT. There are a number of templates you can use for this (we’ll look at some of these in a future post), but for now, we’ll outline what we think are the key principles and questions to answer to ensure that you have the essential ingredients for an effective KT plan.
Who is your audience?
When it comes to crafting a KT plan, it’s a good idea to start with the “who.” Who will this research affect — is it teenagers who visit family practice clinics or elderly who are receiving home care? Who will mobilize the knowledge — is it the family physicians and nurses treating those teens or the physiotherapists visiting the home care patients? At the policy level, who might be interested in this information — should the Family Medicine Administration know about these results, or perhaps the people that oversee the Home Care Program?
Knowing which and how many audiences to target with the results of your work will set the foundation for all of your KT strategies to follow.
What is your message?
This can be a tricky “chicken or egg” dance because inherently, your research is attempting to come up with this very answer. That said, there are ways to frame your KT strategy prior to the actual research, without having to detail all of the specifics. You may not know exactly what your answer is, but you should know what question you are trying to answer. Essentially, you must ensure that you align your targeted knowledge-users and chosen KT strategies with the expected results of the research.
For example, if you are trying to determine whether Drug A or Drug B is more effective in reducing Disease X in Population Y, you need to make that clear. It can be as simple as “Once we determine which drug is more effective, our knowledge translation activities will focus on disseminating drug usage information with Disease X specialists who service Population Y.” Your research will fill in the specifics but your overall road map should be available from the start.
What theory or framework is guiding your project?
I won’t go into too much detail here, because Leah has already done a fantastic job of Unpacking KT Theories, Models and Frameworks for us. But this is something that reviewers will look for — how you intend to anchor your work in evidence and current best practices.
How will you pay for it all?
The costs of dissemination are eligible expenditures in all CIHR grants and traditionally, researchers are comfortable with setting aside a small bit of the budget for conference travel and publication expenses. Often underestimated are the very real and often very substantial costs associated with KT activities. Products such as websites, infographics and lay summaries require expertise and specialized programs to produce and maintain. Events such as stakeholder meetings, summits and other linkage events come with not only financial price tags but human resource expenses required to pull them off (e.g. knowledge brokers, facilitators, and guest speakers).
We’ll go into more detail when we delve into budgeting for KT, but in general, consider the amount of funding that you are applying for and use a combination of practicality and academic rigor to determine the number and scope of KT activities for your application.
How will you know if it worked?
Most researchers operate within a program of research, with each study building on the body of work that came before it. In order to do this, you need to know the impact of your project — was your dissemination successful, did you reach your intended audience and ultimately, did you have an impact? Yet, evaluation is the piece that I find most often missing from a KT plan.
There should be no big surprises in the KT portion of a grant application because all of its elements should be interwoven throughout the rest of the application. Sure, the assigned KT section is where you flesh out the details of the plan but the whole application should be leading the reviewer up to this point.
Whether you agree or disagree with the concept of having stand-alone KT sections in funding applications (a topic Kate tackled in her post The Pros and Cons of KT Grant Sections), the reality is that you are likely to come across them in your grant-writing career, and we believe they deserve the same care and thought as all the other pieces of your research design.
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).