Dealing with Organizational Problems

How to organize a dealing center. Creating a Knowledge Translation Platform: nine lessons from the Zambia Forum for Health Research

Joseph M Kasonde: moc.

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This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract The concept of the Knowledge Translation Platform KTP provides cohesion and leadership for national—level knowledge translation efforts.

In this review, we discuss nine key lessons documenting the experience of the Zambia Forum for Health Research, primarily to inform and exchange experience with the growing community of African KTPs. Programmatic lessons include focusing on building the capacity of both policy-makers and researchers; building a database of local evidence and national-level actors involved in research and policy; and catalyzing work in particular issue areas by identifying leaders from the research community, creating policy-maker demand for research evidence, and fostering the next generation by mentoring both up-and-coming researchers and policy—makers.

A KTP must also invest in the skill base of the wider community and, more importantly, of its own how to organize a dealing center. Given the very real deficit of research-support skills in most low-income countries — in synthesis, in communications, in brokering, in training — a KTP must spend significant time and resources in building these types of in-house expertise.

And lastly, the role of networking cannot be underestimated. Often misunderstood as a technique to transfer research findings directly to policy, KT is more properly imagined as a dynamic set of approaches connecting research and policy processes.

To forge this cycle of policy-informed research leading to evidence-informed policy, KT isolates several important moments within this cycle.

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As KT is above all a social process, it focuses on building trust and dialogue among researchers, policy-makers and other research users [ 1 - 5 ]. Several recent innovations illustrate this social nature of KT, including the deliberations central to the development of evidence-informed policy briefs and to the creation of Rapid Responses, where researchers respond to policy-maker demand with a tailored synthesis of research evidence.

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As much as it seeks to open up the policy process by advancing evidence as a tailored or demanded input, KT also seeks to reform the research process — principally by trying to align research topics with policy needs as opposed to, for instance, the needs or desires of funders. This has been done through, for instance, priority-setting exercises, where multiple stakeholders convene and use tested methods to deliberate, weigh, balance and rank competing priorities in health research.

While in some low- and middle-income contexts there are individual projects and efforts focused on each of the above activities, in recent years the concept of the Knowledge Translation Platform KTP has emerged to add some cohesion to these efforts [ 6 - 10 ].

A KTP is, typically, a national- or state-level entity designed to create and nurture links among researchers, policy-makers and other research-users; these links draw the research and policy communities closer together to ultimately create cycles of policy-informed evidence and evidence-informed policy. KTPs are ideally led by trustworthy, highly connected and credible experts, intermediaries who excel in various different fields, including evidence gathering, critical appraisal, facilitation, communication and networking.

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They almost certainly require experience — and command respect — in the worlds way to trade binary options both research and policy. As an organization, a KTP may take several different forms.

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It may be a virtual, web-based entity; it may be a network that forms around a particular issue e. Where the KTP locates itself is a critical variable in its organization and operations — whether as part of government, a parastatal, a university, or as a member of civil society.


Each of these positions comes with a set of advantages and drawbacks. For instance, as a civil society organization, a KTP may rely upon its neutrality and independence to successfully broker among different stakeholders; yet as an independent entity it may suffer from an uncertain or shifting funding base.

As part of government e. On one side, the research community has evolved within the silo of academia, with a primary influence seen in the strong vertical linkages with foreign funders.

Research projects often have little communication with each other and tend to have a weak, peripheral connection with the national government. Findings from these projects often flee the country, appearing in global scientific journals without influencing or informing any local policy or practice. The policy community, in turn, often formulates policy without consulting research evidence, and has few active connections with either independent researchers or the research community more broadly.

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While this context of two separate communities is hardly unique to Zambia [ 11 ], in explorations began to assess and address ways of narrowing the gap between these two communities. A planning team of stakeholders, including representatives from the national research and policy communities, and the international research community, came together to begin laying the groundwork for a Zambian KTP.

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In these sessions, we determined some key variables organizational development, programming, KT innovations and then analyzed how ZAMFOHR has responded to each in turn. These lessons are inherently qualitative reflections and are offered here in an evaluative spirit to inform the development of other KTPs.

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There are many limitations in arriving at these lessons, and there is a strong need for a research project to capture them in a much more rigorous fashion. A local senior health-sector consultant was commissioned to execute several scoping surveys, comprised chiefly of key informant interviews at domestic research institutions to document details, collect papers, strategic plans, project profiles, and also to determine the degree of policy-maker involvement in their work.

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This simple act of databasing had never been done before, and allowed the planning team to start identifying and assessing some of the core issues within the research community — for instance, the systemic lack of incentives for researchers to collaborate or at the very least share information with each other, and the often corrosive spirit of competition among researchers for scarce how to organize a dealing center funds.

Further analysis of these scoping studies revealed the routine lack of policy-maker involvement in research projects, and a significant number of final reports that had not been published or disseminated. The planning team then turned to the policy community, and conducted some key informant interviews, primarily with Ministry of Health stakeholders.

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Understanding these intra-community dynamics — including institutional and individual conflicts, and a deeper awareness of power relations and how things really work — led to the next step in the process. This saw the planning team identify 30 different stakeholders from the research and policy communities to participate in deliberations on how or even if a KTP could serve their needs.

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As an NGO? As a parastatal? As part of the Ministry of Health?