University research centers as knowledge translation platforms: leveraging structure, support and resources to enhance multisectoral collaboration and advocacy

Akshara Valmeekanathan, Carly Babcock, Brenton Ling, Melissa A. Davey-Rothwell, David R Holtgrave, Nasreen S. Jessani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Knowledge Translation Platforms (KTPs) have drawn attention as multidisciplinary institutional structures that broker evidence to policy and practice. University Research Centers (URCs) appear to serve as internal KTPs by fostering research collaboration as well as advocacy. This study’s aim was to examine URCs within one American School of Public Health (SPH) to explore the functions of knowledge translation (KT) they engender, the support and resources they offer to facilitate KT, and their unique organization’s structural features. We further explored how these functions contribute towards the SPH’s role in advancing evidence informed decision making. We conducted in-depth interviews with 52 SPH faculty—some embedded within URCs and others external to them—and 24 government decision-makers at City, State, Federal and Global levels. Data were analyzed inductively and deductively using Atlas.Ti. This paper presents results emerging from interview responses. Faculty embedded within URCs that engendered KT functions were often equipped with the support and resources to effectively engage with decision-makers and leveraged their school affiliation, reputation, and collective networks. URCs also offered several structural advantages, providing flexibility in hiring staff solely towards KT endeavors, opportunities for advocacy, and pursuing non-traditional funding avenues. We explore the institutionalization of URCs as internal KTPs and the value they can provide to universities. We discuss the merit in URCs positioning themselves as internal KTPs and propose a revised framework outlining KTP functions. Further exploration on how to better leverage and evaluate such URCs is critical as universities make strides in advancing evidence-informed decision-making efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTertiary Education and Management
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Higher Education Institute
  • Knowledge Broker
  • Knowledge Translation Platform
  • Multisectoral Collaboration
  • School of Public Health
  • University Research Center

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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