The Knowledge Translator

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How to Write a Research Impact Story that Speaks to the Right Audience

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Knowledge translation is playing an increasingly visible role in driving innovation, with the Research Impact Story emerging as a recognizable genre used by funding organizations, research institutes, and start-ups.

Typically, the story begins something like this:

Meet our Researcher of the Month, Dr. Letitia Song.

Dr. Song grew up in the small town of Cambridge, Ontario, where her family had settled upon immigrating from Vietnam. When Dr. Song’s mother, Lila, was diagnosed with a particularl…

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Using Video for Knowledge Translation: What "The Worst Remake" of a Classic American Novel Teaches Us About Translating from One Medium to Another

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In 1995, I spent most of my days buried in fiction and scholarship that took me back to the middle of the 1800s. When I wasn’t poring over microfilm of nineteenth-century women’s magazines, I was reading literary criticism about women’s writing during the era of such celebrated male authors as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville.

As I pursued these two research tracks, I read with one foot in highbrow culture—the world of Hawthorne and Melville—and the other in the lowbrow culture of “domes…

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The Four Channels of Entrepreneurial Influence You Must Master if You Want Your Research to Make an Impact Outside the Lab or Library

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As a researcher, you’ve developed a sophisticated set of communication skills. You’ve mastered the art of sharing your findings with your peers through academic articles, posters, and conference presentations. You’ve probably written at least a couple of scholarship or grant applications. You may also have gained experience as a teacher, in which case you’ve learned how to convey complex information to novices in your field. And if you’ve spent any time on committee work, then you’ve likely been…

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It’s Time to Rethink the Syllogisms We Tell Ourselves About Creating and Sharing Knowledge

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We often think of core values as standalone principles. But aren’t they really a set of interrelated assumptions? When I think of the values that have shaped my career, they form a syllogism:

  • Knowledge is a treasure.
  • Treasure is for sharing.
  • Therefore, knowledge is for sharing.

Because I’ve much of my life mistakenly thinking that everyone shares my perspective, it took me years to realize that the middle piece of this syllogism isn’t necessarily a given. In fact, in many ways, cultural …

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In the Promethean Effort to Mitigate the Climate Crisis, We Can’t Afford Knowledge Hoarding

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When I really need a shot of optimism, there’s nothing like a dose of Romantic poetry to shift my outlook from despairing to hopeful. That’s Romantic with a capital R. Not poetry commemorating the bond between lovers but poetry that celebrates the connection between humanity and nature, the depth and breadth of human emotion, and the transformative nature of art.

At the start of this new year, I feel in deep need of some Romantic buoyancy. The state of our fragile planet seems more fragile than…

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Writing with the Robot: Three Random Observations on Creating Text Hand-in-Hand with AI

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Generative AI and I are just getting to know each other. Right now, I'd describe our relationship as hesitant dating. I'm still a bit too wary to invest a lot of time or cash in getting to know AI at a deep level. But I have become curious enough to have the equivalent of a few coffee chats.

For years, I've put off even shaking hands with this new technology, thinking (arrogantly) that I, a "professional writer," didn't need any new-fangled help. Back in the early 2000s, when I was a full-time …

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It's Time for Social Purpose Organizations to Restore Corrupt Marketing-Speak to Its Noble Roots

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Marketing-speak has a way of corrupting noble language.

Empathy, which should create a sense of solidarity and lessen pain, turns into the practice of pressing vulnerabilities until they hurt.

Empowerment, which should enable people to achieve their goals, becomes a certain style of marketing that creates the feeling—but not the results—of embracing a positive attitude.  

Advocacy, which should mean coming to the aid of someone who needs your help, describes the actions consumers take to prom…

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The Different Levels of Knowledge Translation and Why They Matter to Academics Who Want to Make an Impact

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At a recent research conference, I enjoyed networking with scientists and social scientists from a wide range backgrounds, all of them domains far beyond my knowledge base. As I sidled from one conversation to the next, I got glimpses into fields as diverse as psychiatry, pediatrics, molecular genetics, social services, biomedical engineering, kinesiology, biology, transportation engineering, and occupational health. 

As someone who loves to learn, I was in my element. Yet I’ll confess there we…

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How to Make Your Startup Communications Antifragile

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As a coach, I often wish that I could tell clients how “easy” it is to craft persuasive communications that respect the integrity of complex ideas while winning over the audience. But the truth is that using language and visuals to convey thought is challenging work, even using AI as your helper.

Building any communication product—such as pitch deck, a cold email, a website, a one-pager, or a blog series—is like constructing any physical product, such a chair or a house. Try to cut corners, and…

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Awkward Cousins: Scholarship and Marketing as Related Disciplines

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Most scholars I know grimace when they think about promoting their ideas outside academia. Indeed, that used to be my reaction until I recognized that publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals is a lot like positioning a new product or service in the marketplace.

On the surface, scholarship and marketing seem like radically different activities—but only on the surface. Once you acknowledge, with author Daniel Pink, that selling ideas is a fundamentally human endeavor, then the similarities …

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