Amanda Cooper PhD
My passion is chasing the ever-illusive research impact. I run a program of research called RIPPLE — Research Informing Policy, Practice, and Leadership in Education — at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada (www.ripplenetwork.ca). RIPPLE explores knowledge mobilization (KMb), integrating research into policy and practice in public services, from three vantage points: research producers, research users, and knowledge brokers, while exploring how we might measure and trace KMb and research impact across these diverse contexts. Research impact can be a dirty word in some circles – symbolizing the narrowing of what types of research are valued, and used as an accountability stick by universities or national performance- based funding systems (such as the REF in the UK); however, I think research impact agendas also provide an exciting space for us to reimagine research for practice in ways that promotes collaboration and engagement with diverse stakeholders. Collaboration with diverse stakeholders is difficult – but, in the end, co-producing a vision for societal improvement using evidence is a worthwhile agenda. I have no illusions about how hard KMb is – we all know that “research says” working out for 30 minutes a day is good for us, but how many of us do it? This is an area where you probably have running shoes at home and could work out for free. This is a tangible example of how difficult it is to change behavior in relation to research evidence. Our systems are layered with structures (or the lack thereof) that accelerate collaboration and impact or slow its progress – most frequently, the latter. My program of research takes a whole system perspective and explores how different efforts are needed for different stakeholders. RIPPLE doesn’t shy away from how messy KMb is – rather, my team embraces these challenges as learning opportunities. I am deeply committed to helping researchers, policymakers, and practitioners build capacity for KMb to make our systems (and the world) a little bit better with the help of the many different people I have the privilege of working with along the zig-zagged path to impact.