25 years of knowledge transfer: let’s take off the rosy glasses…

It’s not that nothing works.

It’s just that progress in the KT field is, and has been, very slow.

The early stages of research in the KT field were over optimistic: people thought that it was going to change the world! But making real changes have been harder than expected. We now have access to a huge amount of data showing that KT’s effectiveness ranges from none to…very little.

Knowledge translation closely resembles science’s quest for truth: no one has found a foolproof way to have an unbiased view of reality and truth. Yet the search for truth is the foundation of science. This quest is of the same nature as the one that drives the researcher who wants to make the world a better place through KT. It is the Holy Grail we should be aiming for…even if we don’t know for sure how to do it. The challenges and failures of KT interventions are no reason to give up. But it’s not sure we are helping ourselves in wearing too rosy glasses. This was the essence of this talk.

For the past 25 years, we have heard systematic reviews of systematic reviews on KT that say “hmm, you know, some things work… sometimes”. There’s no miracle recipe to change practices (or healthcare systems or societies) with KT’s magic wand. However, some elements could be useful for not missing the target:

  • Taking into account politics instead of avoiding them;
  • Moving beyond habitual boredom and thinking outside the box;
  • Adapting strategies instead of reproducing old ones.

Here are a few excerpts from a talk given by Damien Contandriopoulos during the plenary session of the 1st National KT Conference in Rehabilitation, held in Montreal, on May 19th, 2016.

You can also watch the whole presentation here:




*The picture is a still from the piece of John Baldessari I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art (1971).