I have worked in applied health research at the University of Exeter Medical School Institute for Health Research for the past 18 months. I came to academia after many years working in service improvement roles in the voluntary sector, and more recently the NHS. I was keen pretty much as soon as I started to look at how research influences practice – my experience showed me that there was a thirst for relevant research knowledge to inform and support decision making, but there were barriers preventing the utilisation of research.
What I have learnt so far is that knowledge mobilisation (KM) is a social process and it is context dependent. Because of this complexity, it is difficult, but really important to look at how it (KM) does and doesn’t work if we are to make the most of the results and findings from the work of researchers, and if we want to make a positive difference to what happens for patients and the public who use health services. It also comes from a place of recognising that there are many perspectives on what ‘counts’ as knowledge, and who ‘counts’ as a knowledge producer. I don’t claim to understand or know a lot about KM, but I am really interested in it, and so I see myself as a pilgrim of knowledge mobilisation – learning, knowing and doing.
Apart from work stuff, I live in Devon, in a lovely house overlooking a lake with my fella and our two cats, Zeus and Apollo. I play the guitar and I also like to sing. I like to play PS3, especially Skyrim (which will be obvious if you’ve read the Realist Hive before), and I have recently, and most unexpectedly, started running. For fun. I am still waiting for the ‘fun’ part.
Rob Anderson is a health services and public health researcher with broad experience in both primary research and evidence synthesis. Of the few coherent strands which link his roles and projects, he is most interested in (1) complex (multi-component, behavioural, and context-dependent) interventions and using theory-driven approaches (including realist evaluation and realist synthesis) to develop rich and reliable (i.e. realistic!) explanations the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions, programmes and policies, and (2) how research and other information informs decision-making and organisational behaviour (… in a past life, he trained as a Management Accountant in the chemical industry, which somewhat uncannily was also about generating relevant information to enable better decision-making).
Apart from a long-standing affinity for doing research which can make a positive difference to policy, practice and ultimately society, the more recent impetus for Rob wanting to get up to speed with so-called Implementation Science, and now Knowledge Mobilisation, was the rejection, about two years ago, of not one but two research papers submitted to the journal Implementation Science, because – the Editors claimed – they were ‘outside the scope of the journal’ (hmmmph!). This began an odyssey of both trying to fathom what these various terms and research areas actually mean (… lots of different things to different people, it turns out), and also linking up with others who are similarly baffled and excited by the prospect making more useful sense of these ‘new’ approaches. Rob is also a repressed poet, so writing posts to a Blog seemed an acceptable outlet for indulging in interesting word games.
As I say on my Exeter staff page – ‘As befits someone who considers themselves a realist both practically and philosophically, my professional life has hopped and skipped across areas of healthcare practice and disciplines of study before coalescing in the hybrid world that is evidence synthesis’. And what is a synthesis without mobilisation? Incomplete. Indeed, what is a researcher without knowledge mobilisation? Incomplete. So that’s why I’m here.