Co-creative approaches to knowledge production and implementation series (part 1): Introduction

Bruce Boyes
Sep 26 · 3 min read

The concept of the co-creation of knowledge is gaining considerable momentum. For example, the SDG Lab has put forward a list of co-creation rules of engagement as part of a new toolkit developed to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), RealKM’s Dr. Arthur Shelley has used co-creation as a foundation of the highly effective Creative Melbourne annual event, and I’ve used co-creati0n in numerous projects.

However, as the editorial[1] of a newly published special issue of the journal Evidence & Policy advises, evidence to support co-creation as a knowledge mobilisation intervention remains thin on the ground. This means that as a potential strategy for transforming relationships between knowledge producers, policy makers, practitioners and publics, co-creation continues to sound somewhat optimistic if not naïve.

The special issue arises from an international pursuit funded by the US National Science Foundation through SESYNC (the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center) to further explore the contribution of co-creation to support the use of evidence in policy and practice change. Pursuits are collaborative, transdisciplinary activities where teams come together to work through a topic or challenge. For this pursuit, the focus was on co-creative capacity, which was defined as ‘the deep involvement of a range of key stakeholders across scientific, governance, and local practice boundaries to create the infrastructure and context that enables and sustains the use of evidence in practice’.

Titled “Co-creative approaches to knowledge production and implementation”, the special issue is guest edited by Allison Metz, Annette Boaz, and Glenn Robert. Professor Allison Metz is a Senior Research Scientist and Implementation Division Lead at the University of North Carolina. Annette Boaz is a Professor of Health Care Research at St George’s University of London and Kingston University. Glenn Robert is a Professor at King’s College London. Evidence & Policy is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to comprehensive and critical assessment of the relationship between research evidence and the concerns of policy makers and practitioners, as well as researchers.

The contributors come from a diverse set of disciplinary backgrounds, work in different policy and practice domains, and span geographic boundaries — North America, South America, Europe and Australia. The guest editors advise that while the contributors share a commitment to promoting evidence use and experience of working with stakeholders, they are not experts in co-creation. Rather, they have developed their thinking together over a series of international meetings, and the special issue presents a selection for the international evidence and policy audience.

The individual papers grapple with a range of issues. These include whether co-creation is distinct from other modes of research and practice approaches — including, for example, stakeholder participation — and whether there are common features that guide co-creative processes and produce value to participants. The papers consider specific tools for supporting co-creation and suggest methods for assessing whether co-creation achieves the intended benefits.

RealKM Magazine is very pleased to be bringing you a series of articles based on this important special issue over the coming weeks. This has been made possible by the publication of the special issue as open access and under a Creative Commons license. The guest editors and paper authors are commended for their leadership in this regard.

Next part (part 2): What is co-creation and why is it used?

Article source: Adapted from Co-creative approaches to knowledge production: what next for bridging the research to practice gap?, CC BY-NC 4.0.

Header image source: Adapted from an image by Michelle Pacansky-Brock on Flickr, CC BY 2.0.


  1. Metz, A., Boaz, A. and Robert, G. (2019) Co-creative approaches to knowledge production: what next for bridging the research to practice gap?, Evidence & Policy, vol 15, no 3, 331–337, DOI: 10.1332/174426419X15623193264226

Originally published at RealKM.

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Bruce Boyes

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It’s about people: helping people to learn, know, participate, act and interact has been the focus of my diverse career.

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