IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Knowledge translation: an integral part of research

The IRSST places priority on knowledge translation to promote the uptake of research results by workplaces and other intended users. It seeks to ensure that research results have a real and positive impact on workers’ health and safety. Regarded as an organizational priority, knowledge translation is therefore an integral part of the Institute’s research activities.

Based on our experience, positive outcomes are achieved in the workplace if the knowledge translation potential of a research project is taken into account by ensuring stakeholders’ active participation from the planning stages through to project completion.

The scientific literature has shown that certain winning conditions promote knowledge dissemination and translation. These conditions must be in place to ensure the uptake of research results by representatives of the users (particularly, union and employer associations, joint sector-based associations, workers, employers, and professional orders and associations).

In 2006, the IRSST developed its own framework of practice for the research and knowledge translation cycle. Its goal is to ensure ongoing interaction between researchers and users throughout the process, from project development to results application. One of the winning conditions needed is the formation of a follow-up committee as a means of initiating the knowledge translation process.

Follow-up committees

Comprised of stakeholders in the research project, a follow-up committee shares its knowledge of the target workplaces with the researchers continually: during the definition, development and realization of the project; during the transfer of results and their application in the workplaces; and during impact evaluation.

More specifically, the follow-up committee helps ensure that the following goals are attained:

  • the research projects address the needs and concerns of the workplaces involved;
  • the committee members’ knowledge of the workplaces helps create optimal conditions for carrying out the project;
  • the results obtained are useful to and usable by the workplaces involved, and the means used to communicate the results are adapted to their realities;
  • the knowledge translation process is properly managed by the stakeholders such that all the workplaces involved are informed of the results and able to apply them;
  • the impact evaluation is taken into account and leads to improved research and knowledge translation practices.

The presence or not of a follow-up committee depends on the nature of the research and scope of the stakeholders’ commitment. Its composition and role can vary, depending on the project, the phases of the research and knowledge translation cycle, and the progress made in the research work.

The committee’s composition reflects the following factors:

  • respect for the principle of worker-management representation (worker/employer representatives);
  • adequate representation of organizations that can play the role of intermediaries;
  • diversity of viewpoints.

The framework of practice

The IRSST adopted a framework of practice in 2006 to update its knowledge translation practices and ensure that they are based on productive, frequent and ongoing interactions between researchers and users.

The research and knowledge translation cycle consists of eight steps that can be divided into four main phases.

The framework of practice#preliminaire phase1 phase2 phase3 phase

Preliminary phase | Phase 1 - Anchoring | Phase 2 - Research | Phase 3 - Knowledge translation | Phase 4 - Evaluation of impacts

The research and knowledge translation cycle revolves around the building and maintenance of networks of collaborators (scientific stakeholders, stakeholders in the OHS network and representatives of other stakeholders). These networks are organized around OHS problems, priority issues and target clienteles’ needs. As part of the cycle dynamics, each step is carried out in interaction with these collaborator networks.

Knowledge transfer unit

An organizational priority

Since it was founded in 1980, the IRSST has placed clear importance on knowledge translation. The aim is to ensure ongoing interaction between researchers and users by involving the latter during the entire research process, from project development to results application. To ensure that knowledge translation becomes an integral part of the process, the Institute has formed a team of knowledge transfer advisors within the Communications and Knowledge Transfer Division.

Role of the team of advisors

The team’s role is to promote the application of research results in workplaces. To do so, it has adopted a framework of practice that fosters interaction between researchers and potential users throughout the research activity, as well as use of the results. The framework revolves around building and maintaining networks representative of all stakeholders (researchers, the CNESST, union and employer organizations, joint sector-based associations, workers, employers, and professional orders and associations).

The dynamics of this approach reflect the worker/employer representation principle that is characteristic of OHS activities in Québec.

The involvement of stakeholders in all stages of the research activity reinforces the idea that knowledge translation cannot be limited to simply disseminating results.

The team’s mandate

The team is responsible for promoting the use of research results in workplaces by:

  • developing, maintaining and supplying information to the stakeholder network;
  • supporting and facilitating relations with stakeholders;
  • advising researchers during the definition and analysis of research needs;
  • ensuring implementation of the knowledge translation strategies to make the research results useful for workplaces.

To optimize knowledge transfer activities, one advisor is assigned to each of the research fields.

The role of knowledge transfer advisors

Knowledge transfer advisors are the advocates of the knowledge translation process at the IRSST. Their roles vary depending on the phases in the research and knowledge translation cycle. They also assist in analyzing stakeholders’ needs and translating them into research intentions.

They support researchers throughout the research process, starting from the preparation of grant applications (to identify the knowledge translation potential as early as the project design phase) and in their interactions with workplace stakeholders. In addition, they monitor the knowledge translation plan and the implementation, start-up and activities of the follow-up committee.

Knowledge transfer advisors assist in adapting research results and in developing collaborative initiatives with the IRSST’s partners to monitor the results dissemination and impact evaluation processes. They also initiate knowledge transfer activities for research projects.