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Adapting Knowledge Translation Practices for Application in Transportation Research

Description:

The transportation practice is constantly evolving. Research is conducted to help understand and apply new concepts or modifications to existing practices. But adoption and implementation of research results can seem slow and the potential benefits may not be fully realized. The transportation research community has invested a significant amount of effort to support the implementation of research results. The efforts have included practices to incorporate implementation expectations in problem statements, contracts, and reports; studies on how to communicate research results and practices to document the value of research; and surveys to capture the use of research products. But adoption of research findings is still slow, and some are concerned that the value of research isn’t commensurate with the investment in research. This impacts the transportation sector as a whole.

The slow adoption of applied research findings in the implementation phase is not unique to the transportation sector. The National Institute of Health has established the National Center for Advancing Translation Science to advance what is called knowledge translation as a practice that “transforms the translational process so that new treatments and cures for disease can be delivered to patients faster”. The National Institute for Health describes knowledge translation science as “focused on streamlining the process of moving (“translating”) … findings into … practice”. Developed out of necessity due to a human health science environment closely intertwined with rigorous FDA oversight and approval processes, the practice of knowledge translation maps the lifecycle from research idea to implementation and evaluation of the products, through adoption in real-world communities.

An example of the knowledge translation lifecycle is provided in Figure 1. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) identified six opportunities within the research cycle at which the interactions, communications, and partnerships that help facilitate knowledge transfer might occur. The six opportunities are listed below. This is only one example of a knowledge translation cycle model. The product of this research request should be built to reflect typical context and patterns found in the transportation sector.

KT1: Defining research questions and methodologies

KT2: Conducting research (as in the case of participatory research)

KT3: Publishing research findings in plain language and accessible formats

KT4: Placing research findings in the context of other knowledge and sociocultural norms

KT5: Making decisions and taking action informed by research findings

KT6: Influencing subsequent rounds of research based on the impacts of knowledge use

Figure 1. The CIHR 2005 Model and six opportunities for Knowledge Translation (KT)

Knowledge translation emphasizes the engagement with stakeholders that are closely involved in the target implementation community in order to achieve effective adoption of research. Knowledge translation also expands the traditional research lifecycle to include feedback to researchers at each stage of the process, and particularly from community adoption. This continual feedback helps researchers and developers improve projects, services, explanations, and adaptions for current and future work. An effective knowledge translation cycle helps foster nimble organizations that can respond more quickly to disruptions in practice, use of emerging technology and practice, and changing policy.

This research will examine the concepts of the knowledge translation lifecycle, compare it to the transportation and transportation research life cycles, consider how current practices in transportation align with knowledge translation practices, and identify common gaps and opportunities that could streamline and enhance the adoption of research and emergent practice in the field. The research will focus on theoretical and applied transportation research that is generated in any stage or function of the transportation life cycle (e.g., policy setting, planning, programming, design, budget development, etc.) and how we can use that to increase the velocity of research adoption.

Objective:

The objective of this research is to:

Provide a guide that includes:

o The definition of knowledge translation, identification of sectors that are currently leveraging knowledge translation methods, and a summary of the current uses of knowledge translation and variations in application.

o Explanation of the knowledge translation practices, including participants, activities, and resources needed at each stage of the knowledge translation life cycle.

o A review of current state DOT practices to integrate research and new practice. This includes identifying methods used (e.g., waterfall, agile, Win-Win Spiral, or other project management approaches) and stakeholder engagement patterns by technical discipline (e.g., roadway safety, materials research, planning research, traffic research…).

o A comparison of current methods with the knowledge translation lifecycle to identify leverage points and improvement opportunities.

o Actions to strengthen knowledge translation practices within the transportation life cycle and technical disciplines.

Benefits:

State DOTs are in a period of significant transformation, but the integration of research and innovation can be very slow. Research investments and new practices are scrutinized for the status of implementation and return on investment, and the delay in integration causes concern. This project is urgently needed to help state DOTs understand the activities required to speed delivery of research findings and new practices. This project will increase the value and adoption of transportation research and innovation to stakeholders.

Tasks:

o Literature review of knowledge translation that includes peer-reviewed and gray literature from within and outside the transportation practice and a review of transportation research and innovation implementation and adoption practices.

o Interviews and/or surveys of state DOTs about research and innovation implementation and adoption practices. This may include state DOT research managers, change management practitioners and subject matter experts that help communicate and implement research practice.

o Review of current feedback pipelines in the transportation life cycle, and an exploration of researcher acceptance and adoption of feedback;

o Inventory of types of outcomes and outputs that might be generated throughout the KT life cycle to raise awareness and demonstrate value;

o Interim reports that summarize the findings from literature, surveys, interviews, analysis of state DOT practice with knowledge translation practices, and draft guidance.

o Development of a tutorial on knowledge translation life cycle and its stages for the transportation research community.

o A final guide, knowledge translation lifecycle map, tutorial, and outreach materials.

Implementation:

To aid the AASHTO R&I Committee in deciding whether to fund this project, describe:

· Who within a state DOT will likely be responsible for using promoting and communicating the research results.

· Who within a state DOT is responsible for feedback on research results and implementation

· How state DOTs can implement the research within their own organization and what major steps they would need to take.

· How state DOTs assess the adoption and value of transportation research to stakeholders and communities;

· What existing venues or processes could be used to support implementation and adoption.

· What kinds of additional products and communication activities (e.g. brochures, summaries, presentations, training workshops, peer exchanges, pilot testing, and feedback on research results) will help create awareness and facilitate implementation of the research results.

List the AASHTO Committee(s) and/or Council(s) – and any other organization – that might be interested in the research results and could help support implementation.

· Organization, contact person, phone number, and email address

Relevance:

This research will examine the concepts of the knowledge translation lifecycle, compare it to the transportation and transportation research life cycles, consider how current practices in transportation align with knowledge translation practices and identify common gaps and opportunities that could streamline and enhance the adoption of research and emergent practice in the field. The research will focus on theoretical and applied transportation research that is generated in any stage or function of the transportation life cycle (e.g., policy setting, planning, programming, design, budget development, etc.) and how we can use that to increase the velocity of research adoption.

Sponsoring Committee:AJE45, Information and Knowledge Management
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:Medium
RNS Developer:Leni Oman, Washington State DOT Dr. Denise Bedford, Georgetown University Matt Miller, TTI
Date Posted:10/25/2021
Date Modified:03/08/2022
Index Terms:Technology transfer, Knowledge management, Implementation, Research management,
Cosponsoring Committees:AJE35, Research and Innovation Management
 
Subjects    
Administration and Management
Data and Information Technology
Research
Education and Training
Transportation (General)

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