Section 10: Participatory knowledge exchange

Multidirectional and multidimensional knowledge exchange 

Knowledge exchange needs to be carefully designed, ethical, multidirectional and multidimensional (see e.g., Lepore, Hall, Tandon, 2021). Ward and colleagues (2012) explain “knowledge exchange can be understood as a dynamic and fluid process which incorporates distinct forms of knowledge from multiple sources” (p.297). It is key to bring together stakeholders (communities, policy makers, community leaders, practitioners, NGO’s, advocacy groups, and institutions) to help understand the different systems and factors that could play a key role in mobilising the co-created knowledge (as well as identifying which barriers may arise and how to address these).

The Responsible Knowledge Exchange Engagement and Impact Project explores the different dimensions of responsibility involved in knowledge exchange interactions, and the project is in the process of developing a co-created open access resource due to launch in September 2023. 

Navigating different expressive modes in collaborative knowledge exchange

A helpful approach to collaborative idea and knowledge exchange is exemplified in the Gobi Framework project. The collaborative publishing and knowledge exchange processes of this project are exemplified throughout the project website: an important and useful approach was to include an interview transcript as a book chapter – the interview was recorded and transcribed, and then a collaborative process of member-checking and editing was developed, so that the author could choose which elements were included in the final output, and how each element was phrased and represented. This enabled the book to represent the ideas of herders, practitioners, policymakers and bring together different perspectives.

Key Insights

Ensure knowledge exchange and engagement processes are co-developed with advisory groups, participants, co-researchers and communities

 Georgalakis (2023) explains ‘Knowledge mobilisers need to perform a balancing act that incorporates both an understanding of the systems they are focused on, along with the imperative to promote social justice and pluralism and help change these systems. (para 8)

A helpful example of this can be found in Jumarali and colleagues (2021), this paper details the different kinds of participatory engagement and knowledge exchange that occurred at different stages in the research: the project facilitated participatory engagement with survivors of intimate partner violence, and therefore the engagement needed to be both survivor-centred and trauma-informed to recognise the diverse risks and benefits of engagement.

The process began with a community-based, qualitative needs assessment study for survivors whose partners were in a relationship violence intervention program. In addition to responding to specific aims, this study simultaneously helped to create a pool of potential collaborators. Academic partners used member checking to establish trustworthiness of the study findings and introduce the participants to the concepts of participatory engagement. Next, researchers established an advisory group to develop practice recommendations, which ultimately led to academic and community partners co-designing a community-based dissemination project.

This phased engagement process enabled the advisory group to then lead on key decisions about how the research findings could effectively be communicated and shared:

“The group collectively identified key findings, established recommendations to respond to these findings, and brainstormed how these recommendations could be implemented (Adams et al., 2015)’...Over time, the priorities of the advisory group have shifted toward a community-based dissemination project that involves sharing findings from the study with the community at large via a podcast. Thus, the community partners were engaged initially to ensure data validity, but subsequently became involved in data analysis and interpretation and eventually in the collaborative development of a community-based dissemination project.” (Jumarali et al., 2021, pp.4-5, See also Adams et al., 2015)

Co-design processes that enable community partners, participants and co-researchers to play a central role in the knowledge exchange activities

Pedersen and colleagues (2020) argue that “An increased awareness of the entire knowledge translation chain, and the capacities needed to absorb research among user communities, may in the future create a better appreciation of the various types of research impact and the resources needed to realize them” (p.16).

It is important to find ways to enable meaningful participation in, and collaborative decision making about, the way the research is shared. One researcher described how they co-developed multiple opportunities for their research partners to participate in and lead knowledge exchange sessions. These included recording a video to be shown to policymakers in Westminster, and building co-researcher experience and expertise in presenting at academic conferences (see Researcher Insight below). 

Researcher Insight:

‘They had two one-hour sessions before the conferences to rehearse, and to go over which quotes they were going to read. There were two conferences: the first one, the group just read off quotes and then I was doing analysis between the quotes and kind of putting it all together. And then for the second conference, they really took the lead on it…they were the ones to present, with the quotes and the analysis; and the photos from the photo-ethnography were on the board …so it's really a question of more training and more opportunities.’ (Researcher 8)

Collaborative publishing and building a collaboration roadmap

Collaborative publishing is a key consideration in any participatory research. A helpful discussion of this can be found in Phillips, Larsen and Mengel (2022), in this paper two co-researchers with lived experience of Parkinson’s disease and an academic researcher discuss coproduction, collaboration and co-publishing. An extremely helpful element of their article is the suggested road map they develop for collaborative writing:

 “STEP 1 Louise will write a letter of approx. one page to Anders and Lotte. In the letter, she will take the following question as her starting point: Which experiences from the workshops do you remember the most clearly and why? Louise will email her letter to Anders and Lotte by 10 November 2020.

STEP 2 Anders and Lotte will write a letter back to all three of us based on the following questions: What came to mind when you read Louise's letter? Which concrete experiences from the workshops do you remember the most clearly and why? Anders and Lotte will email their letters to the others by 24 November.

STEP 3 We will have a two-hour conversation at Louise’s house which takes its starting point in the following question: What made the biggest impression on each of us when we read each other’s letters? We will record the dialogue on a digital voice recorder.

STEP 4 Based on the three letters and the dialogue at Louise’s house, Louise will draft the article. The draft will contain excerpts from the three letters as well as excerpts from the conversation. Louise will email the draft article on 4 December…”. (Phillips, Larsen & Mengel, 2022, p.6)

This article then explains the final steps of the co-writing process (and how the final interactions took place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic): it is interesting to note how the authors use clear steps, actions and dates to breakdown what would otherwise be a large and potentially daunting task – the clarity around who is responsible for which element (at which time) sets out expectations, and provides a helpful plan to come back to and discuss.

 Sharing successes, challenges and failures

It is helpful to share which elements of knowledge exchange and engagement worked well as well as including detail about what was challenging, difficult or not possible.

‘There is so much more we can do to generate concrete steps towards the more equitable, inclusive and effective mobilisation of knowledge in a world that is still characterised by deep cognitive and epistemic injustices. This requires sharing our stories of failures as well as successes and extending the conversation out to a wider constituency of thinkers and doers’ (Georgalakis, 2023, Final Para). 


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