MSFHR’s KT team publish recommendations for evaluating KT in funding applications

As BC’s health research funder, MSFHR plays a leading role in advancing the practice of knowledge translation in the province by funding KT activities, managing KT projects, advocating for KT, and building province-wide KT capacity via the BC SUPPORT Unit and a KT Collaborative.

One of the ways MSFHR supports KT capacity building is by offering training to researchers to help them increase the impact of heath research evidence, and shorten the lag between evidence and practical application.

However, MSFHR’s KT team realized that if researchers were going to be effective in implementing their KT plans, those plans needed to be reviewed with the same rigour as the rest of their funding applications. This relies on expert reviewers, and while MSFHR, like most other funding agencies, now requires a KT plan as a central component of grant applications, the pool of KT scientists and practitioners equipped sit on peer review panels is small, and there is a lack of evidence to guide reviewer training in KT.

To address this gap, and ensure MSFHR continues to meet the needs of the health research community, our Director of KT Gayle Scarrow, Interim President & CEO Bev Holmes, and Interim Director of KT Donna Angus*, conducted an extensive literature search and key informant interviews to establish the requirements for properly assessing KT in funding applications.

Their insights, published this month in Research Integrity and Peer Review, highlight that:

  • Funders of health research have an obligation to ensure that the knowledge translation components of funding applications are as rigorously evaluated as the scientific components.
  • Peer reviewer training in KT is critical to ensuring that the KT components of funding applications are as rigorously evaluated as the scientific components.
  • Current efforts may not be sufficient to ensure that review panel members have the knowledge and skills to adequately assess the quality of KT plans in applications.

As experts in KT and health research funding, Scarrow, Holmes and Angus recommend that a variable mix of panel composition, orientation and training tailored to the skills of reviewers and dependent on the type of funding program and research funded can provide KT reviewers with the competencies they require.

These recommendations are currently being integrated into MSFHR’s peer review process in line with our commitment to meet the highest scientific standards in peer review and support the connection between research evidence and its impact in BC.

READ: Reviewer training to assess KT in funding applications is long overdue

*Then supporting MSFHR as a KT consultant.