“CONSIDERING HOW COMPLEX THE RESEARCH IS, TAMIKA IS UNCANNILY GOOD AT UNDERSTANDING THE PROPOSAL AND IDENTIFYING IMPROVEMENTS―SHE JUST ZOOMS STRAIGHT IN.”

Professor Andrew Shilton

Environmental Engineering
School of Engineering and Advanced Technology

Professor Andrew Shilton, Massey University

Environmental Engineering School of Engineering and Advanced Technology

Funding is highly competitive in New Zealand―for many funds only around 5% of applications are successful. So unless the application is very strong, it’s just not going to make it.

But with Tamika’s help my application for a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment grant was successful. I was delighted to secure two years of funding for an engineering project to upgrade wastewater treatment in small communities around New Zealand and indeed globally.

In particular, Tamika helped me with a section for my application about the impact of my proposed research. I thought my first draft was clear, but when Tamika looked at it as a new reader with a critical eye I realised that it was really missing the ‘X factor’. For example, she pointed out that I needed to create a clear opening statement about the benefit that my research would deliver.

My colleagues and I were very impressed with the support Tamika gave us. We think she has an amazing ability to very quickly understand a complicated proposal and come straight to the point. Considering how complex the research is, Tamika is uncannily good at understanding the proposal and identifying improvements―she just zooms straight in. And it’s not just understanding the research proposal, she actually contributes to improving it.

As a researcher going through the grant application process, Tamika gave me very valuable input. I found working with her so helpful that I’m recommending her to other researchers at Massey University. I’d definitely be keen to work with her again!

Senior Advisor, Research Grant Development
College of Design and Social Context

Jonathan O'Donnell, RMIT University

Senior Advisor, Research Grant Development College of Design and Social Context

The government wants universities to demonstrate that the research they’re funding is making a difference. The problem is, how do researchers tell that story with evidence? I know from experience that it’s really hard for them to do that.

But Tamika decoded it all in a research impact workshop, helping 25 researchers respond to the government’s impact agenda. She helped us to understand what our impact might be and how to track, measure and plan for it, untangling it all and taking away some of the anger and frustration. Researchers had an enormous level of satisfaction coming out of the training.

With the pressures of the impact agenda, media scrutiny and surviving political cycles, demonstrating research impact is really important right now. We’re in a different world now and it’s good to have Tamika on our side.

With some experts you can feel trepidation knocking on their door, but you don’t have that problem with Tamika. Being able to ask her, “How do I describe this in a way that people can see the value and impact this will have?”, that’s fantastic.

I also really liked Tamika’s Research Impact Summit and worked with her to make the interview videos available through RMIT University Library. So now I can point academics to expert interviews with people in their field, or people dealing with the same problem.

We find the summit enormously valuable and love that it brings together the world’s best and different viewpoints. Next year we plan on convening academics―and possibly students and people in associated fields―to participate and chat.

Another way that I’d like to work with Tamika is to team her up with academics in leadership programs to develop a clear, evidence-based story about their great impact. I’d also like Tamika to work with us on embedding our research in policy and the lives of users. That’d be fantastic!

“TAMIKA MAKES RESEARCH IMPACT REAL. SHE’S DONE IT, HELPED OTHERS DO IT AND CAN HELP YOU DO IT TOO.”

Jonathan O’Donnell

“ONLY 17 FELLOWSHIPS WERE AWARDED FROM 277 APPLICATIONS. I FELT THAT TAMIKA’S ASSISTANCE WITH MY KT PLAN CONTRIBUTED TO THE SUCCESS OF MY APPLICATION.”

Dr Ryan Davis

NSW Health EMC Fellow,
Department of Neurogenetics,
The University of Sydney

Dr Ryan Davis (PhD)

NSW Health EMC Fellow, Department of Neurogenetics, The University of Sydney

How did you discover KT Australia?

I was preparing an application for the New South Wales Health Early-Mid Career Fellowship, which was a brand-new initiative. The institute I work at enlisted Tamika’s expertise in a half-day workshop to introduce a group of applicants to knowledge translation (KT) and help develop their KT plans, which were a new component of a fellowship application for me.

What challenges were you facing?

I’d never heard of KT, so I needed all the support I could get. The biggest challenge was coming to grips with KT and preparing a realistic KT plan in a short space of time. Other hurdles were clarifying application requirements and identifying the right people to translate the knowledge to.

How did Tamika help?

The expectation was overwhelming, but Tamika gave me confidence that my application included the best possible plan for the KT component. She provided an excellent KT introduction in the workshop and then reviewed and discussed my draft KT plan with me.

Only 17 fellowships were awarded from the 277 applications, so the required standards were high. I felt that Tamika’s assistance with my KT plan contributed to the success of my application. The day I found out was a relief, knowing that my salary was secure for another 3 years.

The KT training and plan gave me the tools to begin integrating KT into my fellowship work to impact the widest possible audience. Since then I’ve attended the two-day Scientist Knowledge Translation Training workshop to develop a better understanding of KT and its applicability to my work.

“I probably have an advantage over most researchers who are yet to join the KT movement.”

 What did you learn along the way?

I learnt that traditional pathways of dissemination for scientific research need to be complemented with KT. I now have regular meetings with my clinical colleagues to understand clinical and patient needs and inform the approach, outcomes and implementation of my work. I also have a plan that constantly evolves to fit with the everchanging landscape of my research and the groups relevant to this.

My biggest takeaway was that at all stages of research (design, planning, execution, analysis, outcomes, dissemination) there should be dynamic consideration for what the research is, what it means, what its impact could be, for whom it is relevant and how to transfer that information in a timely manner to the right groups.

What stood out to you about working with Tamika?

Tamika’s passion for KT and transferring the skills to others is infectious and assuring. She has a knack for conveying the complexities of KT to a novice and is a dynamic and engaging instructor.

The workshops were very helpful and the relaxed, inclusive and supportive environment that Tamika provided made learning about KT much easier. She was very approachable, easy to talk to and worked through issues logically and with clear guidance.

I enjoyed her approach to getting scientists who were stuck in their thought processes to step outside of these perspectives and consider the wider implications and benefits of their work if translated to the right groups.

I still feel like a KT novice, but I probably have an advantage over most researchers who are yet to join the KT movement. I think having Tamika as a contact and an advocate has already benefited me greatly and will continue to do so.

“Most people don’t know about KT, don’t understand it and don’t realise how important it’s going to become to health and medical research.”

What would you say to someone thinking of working with the Research Impact Academy?

Definitely take the opportunity. The impact and relevance KT has to health and medical research in Australia is about to become more apparent and necessary. Getting involved now could put you ahead of the game and give you an advantage over the pack in the near future. Most people don’t know about KT, don’t understand it and don’t realise how important it’s going to become to health and medical research.

Chief Operating Officer, Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE

Karyn Joyner

Chief Operating Officer, Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE

When I saw that Knowledge Translation Australia was running a workshop in Sydney back in 2013, I signed up to see what it was all about. I learned so much and it brought knowledge translation (KT) into a keen focus for me.

As the Chief Operating Officer at the Kolling Institute, I wanted our researchers, who were from across the Northern Sydney Local Health District, to have the opportunity to learn about KT too and apply it to their research project planning and grant writing.

With ever-increasing competition for research and philanthropic funding, we needed to describe projects clearly and demonstrate how they would deliver change. Therefore, we invited KT Australia and Tamika specifically to run a workshop on what KT is and how to incorporate it into research project planning.

The workshop attracted experienced professors, early career researchers and clinical staff with clinical, scientific and engineering backgrounds. Everyone was enthusiastic about learning how to communicate their work successfully and incorporate this into their research planning.

After the workshop, Tamika provided consulting services to assist researchers and clinicians with preparing applications for NSW translational research grants. All applicants assisted by Tamika were successful. I believe this was due to Tamika’s approach and advice she offered during the development of their grants.

My biggest takeaway from working with Tamika was her ability to cut through and deliver a simple message when there is a lot of literature and different interpretations. Her approach challenged me to think more carefully about how I communicate achievements and, more importantly, anticipate success by planning for it and making sure I have a KT plan in place. I also use this more generally in my approach to preparing strategic plans and communicating them to different audiences in a way that creates the Aha moment.

Now that I’m the Chief Operating Officer at SPHERE Maridulu Budyari Gumal, an academic health science partnership, we’ve included KT as a strategic platform that we’ll invest in. We intend to build capacity amongst our clinicians, researchers, educators and health service staff around the concepts and benefits of KT. We also intend to invest in artistic ways to share the outcomes from our clinical academic groups with the public. The next two years will be very exciting.

 “ALL APPLICANTS WERE SUCCESSFUL AND I BELIEVE THIS WAS DUE TO TAMIKA HELPING THEM TO UNDERSTAND KNOWLEDGE TRANSLATION AND IMPACT.”

Karyn Joyner