Knowledge Translation (KT) is defined slightly differently across disciplines and contexts. At the 2006 Indigenous Knowledge Translation Summit, KT was described as “sharing what we know about living a good life”.The Canadian Institutes for Health Research defines KT as “a dynamic and iterative process that includes synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically-sound application of knowledge”.2 Essentially, KT is connecting what we know with what we do, in practice, policy, and further research. 

Unfortunately, much of the knowledge that is discovered by researchers sits dormant on a shelf or lies hidden in academic journals. Once published, research often stagnates, never being implemented in practice or policy, failing to inform the research of others or expand the public conversation on an issue. The gap between the discovery and adoption of knowledge indicates a missed opportunity for that knowledge to contribute to the health and well-being of our communities. 

Knowledge Translation (KT) is connecting what we know with what we do in practice, policy and further research.

The good news is that there are many models and frameworks that can help ensure that knowledge is used. These tools focus on different stages of knowledge development and use and help identify how to develop relevant, useable knowledge, who to talk to, what to share, how to share it, and how to implement knowledge in order to facilitate evidence-informed policy and practice. 

Woman studying at a coffee shop

But, what is knowledge?

There are many types and sources of knowledge and different ways of knowing. Knowledge can be found in peer reviewed research studies and government reports; it can be experiential, implicit and gained through oral tradition. While some types of knowledge have been favoured in academic settings, there is a growing understanding in the research community of the importance of gathering knowledge from diverse knowledge sources.

And how do you share it?

Research findings are most likely to be used when the intended users, such as community members, practitioners, decision makers or other researchers, are consulted from the beginning. For this reason a good KT strategy does not begin and end with the dissemination of findings at the conclusion of a research project, but rather is embedded in the research process itself.

There is no one-size-fits-all KT strategy and it is important to consider both the type and stage of research. If you are doing community-based research you might include representatives from across the community; however, if you are doing early-stage lab research, your KT efforts might be focussed on communicating with others in the field. An important element of any KT strategy is identifying the change you want to make and planning the most efficient pathway to make it happen.


1. Kaplan-Myrth N, Smylie J. Sharing What We Know about Living a Good Life. Regina; 2006.

2. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. (2016). Knowledge Translation at CIHR. Retrieved from