Wilfrid Laurier University and York University have recently formed a partnership that will contribute to the evolution of research studies within the community.
York developed a project in 2008 that allowed academic research articles, journals and studies to be translated into language that is accessible by the public. The university uses clear language research summaries, also referred to as ResearchSnapshots.
Laurier’s knowledge mobilization office entered into an agreement with York’s office that will allow the template to be shared between the schools, and while York will continue to develop their caseload of summaries, Laurier will officially begin their summaries in late spring and early summer.
“It’s not ‘dumbing down,’ the research,” Shawna Reibling, Laurier’s knowledge mobilization officer expressed. “My role is to get research out into the broader world.”
Reibling explained that journals are expensive and that they are not written in a language that is meant to appeal to the general public.
Todd Ferretti, a professor in psychology, affirmed this.
“In general, the way that we write up our research is difficult for the average person to understand,” he said. “It [clear language summaries] sounds like it would be useful.”
“The two institutions share a similar commitment to maximizing the social impact of their research,” said David Phipps, the director of research services and knowledge exchange at York. “Why go re-invent the wheel, when you can actually borrow the format that’s already been developed.”
The ministry of education-funded networks of all the faculties of education in Ontario have also adopted this format.
Reibling further explained that the two schools are “working back and forth in a mutually beneficial relationship to revise the template and progress it forward and to share knowledge.”
However, both institutions are collaborating separately on their research.
The summaries will become available on the “Scholars Common @ Laurier” repository through the Laurier library.
The ultimate goal is to get clear language summaries done by every university across Canada.
However, Phipps explained that not every university is making investments in knowledge mobilization.
In regards to the partnership, Reibling simply said, “It’s like we are cooking recipes in our kitchen, but we trade leftovers.”
Examples of the audience that these summaries will be aimed at include communities and government. More specifically, certain summaries could be geared towards people in the community that require the information but are unable to access the journals and articles.
“[We are] taking the language and translating it into the audience that needs to hear it,” Reibling explained.
Magnus Mfoafo-M’Carthy, a social work professor at Laurier agrees.
“Globalization plays a very important role in academic discussion,” he said.
When asked by The Cord if he would participate in the summaries, Mfoafo-M’Carthy said that it was a brilliant idea, and something he would be interested in.
Ginette Lafrenière, another professor of social work at Laurier, said that she would participate in the summaries as well.
“Knowledge mobilization is important because the tax payers of this province and of Canada deserve to see what we are up to,” she said.