This special issue of the Journal of Public Health is delighted to share some of the research first presented at the third Fuse International Knowledge Exchange in Public Health conference, Gateshead, UK 2016 http://www.fuse.ac.uk/events/thirdfuseinternationalkeconference. The theme of the conference was what counts as evidence and can we create impact. The reader is, of course, free to read the specific papers but in this editorial, we wanted to tease-out some of the high-level messages that emerge from a read-across all the papers. We also wanted to identify knowledge gaps for future research activity in the area of knowledge exchange and public health. Efforts to create, share and deploy research evidence to improve the health and wellbeing of people, communities, societies and the wider system is a global phenomenon. As an activity that is happening across multiple policy contexts, we know that different policy–practice–academic configurations create different knowledge sharing opportunities, and this collection includes international examples, some at supra-national, national and regional levels, as well as others at project level. Future research efforts might unpack the effects of collaboration and knowledge sharing at a local level in contrast to the type of effects emerging from a system level strategy. Further to this idea that no ‘one-size-fits-all’, reading across the papers we can see that ‘what works in sharing knowledge’ largely depends on what is being shared, with whom, when and for what purpose. We are still exploring what these activities are and how they may interact with each other in the same undertaking. For example, what are the nuances related to the concepts of knowledge exchange, co-production and research co-production more specifically? Exchanging knowledge is not an activity that belongs only to academics. Many of the authors whose work is reproduced here are policy and practice partners and community members. What counts as research, its methods, who undertakes it and where, is being stretched, and whose view is heard and what knowledge counts, is expanding. Professional expertise, situated knowledge and collective memory shape understandings and the meanings that interventions have in different places, influencing outcomes. In this way, what counts as knowledge is rapidly becoming a democratized process, and we, as academics, are getting better at developing methods to incorporate these different viewpoints. A related gap in the literature is the deeper debate about what this democratization implies for the knowledge production process and related systems, like research funding, that have traditionally been based on the scientist-as-expert model. As we learn more about how knowledge is shared and created collaboratively to inform decision-making and facilitate agreed plans for action—we see that some activities are necessary, but on their own may not be sufficient. We are just beginning to explore how people and contexts interact with interventions to create unexpected and unforeseen outcomes. Interventions that might work in one context, can play-out differently in new contexts as effects can be accelerated or dampened by alternative contextual influences. Sharing knowledge in effective ways as interventions ‘go live’ may allow us to take account of some system complexity. Additionally, this level of complexity in messy, live contexts, raises ongoing challenges in how we can make the best use of the data, information and (research) evidence in combination to open-up choices for living a fulfilling life in modern societies. Taken together, knowledge exchange in public health is an innovative space, where often academic, policy and practice partners, communities and the public are coming together in creative ways to share knowledge. The papers hint at underlying issues related to power, another area requiring future study and discussion. This collaborative space is both theoretically and methodologically challenging but also fiercely practical, and is attempting to accelerate the pace of societal change. Many texts call for a standardization in the way we share knowledge around effective knowledge exchange activities, so we can measure, and deploy activities and mechanisms to create impact as a planned activity. Perhaps, that’s a valid endeavour, but if so, then ‘we are not there yet…’ Knowledge exchange and knowledge sharing is at its heart a relational activity, between people, for a purpose—we have a lot more exploring to do yet—to see the many variations on this. Long live the dynamism! We hope to see you at the fourth Fuse International Conference on Knowledge Exchange in Public Health in Vancouver, Canada from 8 to 10 May 2018. © The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Faculty of Public Health. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Journal of Public Health – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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