50 Community Engagement and Collaboration | Re-introduction to Sharing and Using Knowledge and the “Knowledge-to-Action Gap”

As you have learned in the previous modules, often there are times when knowledge, like research, needs to have a specific plan (e.g., a communication plan, a social media plan, a data ownership plan) designed to ensure that it has the impact and influence that it is expected to. This issue may be, in part, due to two main issues. First, it may be the result of a failure on the part of subject/content matter experts (e.g. academic researchers) to appropriately share knowledge. Or, it may be the result of a failure on the part of context experts (e.g. community members/practitioners with lived experience of the topic being investigated) to appropriately act on created knowledge. This disconnect between subject/content matter and context experts is commonly called the ‘knowledge-to-action gap’.

Take the time to watch this video from the Evidence Exchange Network that illustrates the knowledge-to-action gap in action long before any of us were born…

EENet Video from EENet on Vimeo.

After watching the EENet video, you can see that there has probably always been an issue around the appropriate sharing and use of knowledge, and that this gap still exists on some level in contemporary society. In fact, research has shown that it may take roughly 17 years for 14% of research to find its way into practice! This phenomenon has been colloquially referred to as the ‘17 year odyssey’ of research 14 15 16 17 . Please note that there are numerous reasons behind the length of time between research and practice, which go beyond the scope of this module – the above citations provide important background on these if you are interested in learning more on this topic.

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