Webinar explores how academic research is used to support decision-making

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Have you ever wondered how the research developed within academic institutions influences decision-making? When it comes to water, there are many examples of how university-based research and discovery can be applied to help water managers make science-based decisions within their respective organizations.

Last week, the Water Institute’s Knowledge Mobilization Specialist, Nancy Goucher, hosted a webinar, How governments and organizations use academic science to explore how science-based decisions are made in government and non-government organizations and to learn different strategies and tactics for enhancing the applicability of academic research.

Three experts from Environment and Climate Change Canada and WWF-Canada shared stories about how they worked with university researchers to inform important decisions including those related to the Kemano Completion project in British Columbia, phosphorus loading to the Thames River and Lake Erie, development of a freshwater assessment framework for Canada, and new technologies for monitoring ecosystem health in streams.   

The speakers provided some great tips for ensuring research is useful to potential end-users including:

  • Provide the right evidence, at the right time, and ensure that it is seen by the right people.
  • Apply both formal (e.g., terms of reference, data sharing agreements) and informal tactics (e.g., phone calls, emails, coffee dates) with partners to discuss and agree on important aspects of the project, including timelines, deliverables, attribution and level of flexibility.
  • “Don’t be a plug without an outlet”. In other words, don’t scope your research without knowing about potential “outlets” for your work. You should understand what the outlet needs so that you can make a plug that fits.

The webinar was presented as part of the Global Water Futures 2020 Knowledge Mobilization series, Partner Voices: KM Stories and Skills for Successful Collaborations. Watch a recording of the webinar here.

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