Writing DKT in Grants

Associate Professor Dr. Linda Li at the Department of Physical Therapy, UBC & Research Scientist at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada has provided the following tips on how to approach KT in operating grants:

These tips are further explained in detail below.

1.  Strong dementia KT strategy is only possible when there is a solid research plan

To devise an appropriate DKT strategy for your dementia research, you need to:

  • anticipate the outcomes of your research
  • determine your target audiences
  • be thoughtful about the messages you intend to share, and;
  • consider the best DKT strategies that will enable you to reach your DKT goals (Graham, 2008).

Your DKT strategy needs to align with the scope of your research (as described in the dissemination and exchange section.  For example, you would not have an elaborate DKT strategy for a small side project. As Ian Graham (the recent Vice President and Chair of Knowledge Translation and Public Outreach at CIHR) has cautioned, you need to ‘beware of the KT imperative’.

Additionally, to determine the effectiveness and impact of your research results, your findings should be considered holistically in the context of other related studies prior to investing in DKT.  Draper et al., (2009) have cautioned against premature KT in dementia.  For example, they cited material that indicated that efforts to diagnose dementia at the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) stage led to physician confusion around when to disclose diagnosis to patients and increased patient distress (Ellison, 2008 in Draper et al., 2009).

Link to further information on research synthesis:Grimshaw, J. (2010). A guide to knowledge synthesis: A knowledge synthesis chapter. Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR).

Some questions to consider to determine outcomes of your research to establish an appropriate plan and DKT strategy:

  • Do you expect your results to confirm or disprove previous research findings?
  • What are the study limitations from the outset?  Do you expect your results to be generalizable or will further testing within a larger sample size or different settings be required?
  • What timeframe is required to determine the full impact of your research findings?
  • If your research hypothesis is proven, who would be interested and how can they use this information?
  • How do you expect your research findings to be received by different audiences e.g. do you expect resistance?

Your DKT strategy will evolve in a dynamic way as your research evolves.  For instance:

  1. your results may prove to be inconclusive
  2. there may be other limitations than those that you had anticipated from the outset
  3. your research may be impactful to a larger audience

Don’t forget the bigger picture:

The DKT strategy will form part of your overall research plan and needs to be coherent, concise, and logically written.  Clearly defining your research objectives*, specifying the origins of your research question, and the importance and interest in your research are key considerations for grant reviewers (Tetroe & Jurkovic, 2009).

Further info:

*Tetroe (2008) recommends defining objectives that are measurable and focusing on a few important targets and practical indicators.

Note: If you intend on improving dementia practice through medical education delivery, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has developed resources that can assist you to formulate educational learning objectives.  Included is a useful list of action words.

How do you determine what is an appropriate KT strategy for your dementia research?

Several tools have been developed to help health researchers develop their KT strategies, including the Knowledge Translation Planning Template:

Barwick, M. (2011). Scientist Knowledge Translation Plan Template.  Downloadable from:


While the effectiveness ratings for the KT methods used in this template are rather dated, this template offers a good overview of methods and other relevant areas that need to be considered in developing a KT strategy.  These tools are also applicable to DKT.

Some of these KT methods, including social media and press releases are discussed in further detail here.

What happens if you don’t know all of your research outcomes ahead of time?

You may not know all of the outcomes ahead of time, and it is acceptable to indicate that you have a strategy that goes beyond the current grant.  An example from an integrated KT grant application is as follows:

‘Early in Year 3, we will seek further funding to evaluate research impact and to continue research, outreach, knowledge translation activities and collaboration…so that we maintain strong continuity and momentum to achieve our goals.’

It is important to note that cookie-cutter KT phrases/sections don’t work.

2. Start early, really early…

  • It takes time to develop collaborations with knowledge users
  • Build a research team with connections and collaborations
  • Start with people you know
  • Seize any opportunities
    • Warm calls are better than cold calls
  • Listen carefully
  • Letters of collaboration with details are helpful

3. KT is not always about the ‘K’

There can be several barriers to getting your research findings out of the lab and the university.  These include the following:

  • System:  Financial disincentives
  • Organizational:  Job description, existing rules & regulations
  • Health care team:  Peer pressure, desired practice does not match local standards/needs
  • Individual:  Knowledge/skills, attitude, time

Therefore, there are limits to what a researcher can implement.

4. Include an evaluation plan

To determine whether or not your DKT strategy is working, it is important to include an evaluation plan in your DKT strategy. This will not only help to monitor progress, but also allows you to measure the success of your DKT strategy in the short and long term.

For example, one of the measures used by Assistant Professor Teresa Lui-Ambrose of the Department of Physical Therapy & Director of the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Function Laboratory at UBC to assess the success of her resistance training YouTube videos, was to track the amount of hits on these videos.  Since late April 2012, the videos have been viewed over 11,000 times.

Other evaluation criteria that can be used to measure impact include:

  • Reach indicators – # distributed, # requested, # downloads (website traffic), media exposure
  • Usefulness indicators – read /browsed, satisfied with, usefulness of, gained knowledge, changed views
  • Use indicators – # intend to use, # adapting the information, # using to inform policy/advocacy/enhance programs, training, education, or research, # using to improve practice or performance
  • Partnership / collaboration indicators – # products / services developed or disseminated with partners, # or type capacity building efforts, social network growth, influences, # of collaborations
  • Practice change indicators – commitment to change, observed change, self-reported change
  • Program or service indicators – documentation, feedback, process measures
  • Policy indicators – documentation, feedback, process measures

Source: Barwick, M. (2011). Scientist Knowledge Translation Plan Template.  Downloadable from: http://www.melaniebarwick.com/training.php

Some of the above measures can be collected with various evaluation tools such as knowledge user satisfaction surveys, post-project interviews, commitment to change, self-reflection tools, web analytics, and/or focus groups

5.  Budget for KT activities

Under-budgeting is a common problem and can lead to poor KT implementation. This will be discussed in further detail in the next segment.

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