Resources for Grant Writing

Dissemination, Knowledge Transfer and Exchange

The NSHRF values knowledge exchange and dissemination of research results, and has a legislated mandate to ensure that health research findings funded by the NSHRF are shared broadly and accessible to those making health-related decisions.

The NSHRF utilizes four key concepts that guide its philosophy on the integration of evidence into decision-making processes:

  1. Informed decision-making means consideration of the best information available in decision-making processes. The NSHRF recognizes that research knowledge is an excellent, but not the sole, basis of decisions within the health system.
  2. People who use knowledge for decision-making processes need to trust that the information is Relevant to the decisions being made, Excellent in its quality, Accessible in a format and language that is easily understood and Legitimate by having the methodological rigor and standards to ensure it is in keeping with the body of knowledge. This is REAL knowledge.
  3. Knowledge needs to be accessible in a manner that is both timely and aligns with decision-makers’ timelines, which can vary in length from hours to years.
  4. Focusing on knowledge users is key to supporting evidence integration. The NSHRF recognizes that terms such as knowledge translation, knowledge utilization, and knowledge transfer/exchange have significant utility within the academic community to guide and better understand these theories, models and processes, but can be barriers for knowledge users.


The NSHRF strongly encourages the wide dissemination of research findings and encourages researchers to consider the potential impact of their research with various audiences or stakeholders. The type of dissemination activities chosen will depend on the category of research (medical, health policy, health outcomes, health services) and the characteristics of the intended audience(s). Knowledge transfer and exchange (KT&E) can take place at any or all stage(s) of the research cycle.

Dissemination Plan

Applicants to the NSHRF Establishment Grant must outline within the application a plan addressing intended knowledge exchange and dissemination activities. A minimum of five percent of the total budget must be allocated for these activities.

A dissemination plan should identify at least one potential audience and describe the planned activity to disseminate research findings to the audience. When appropriate, the plan should also describe any proposed collaborations/exchanges and intended implementation plans.

Some of the activities that could be included in your plan are listed below. It is important to note that not all audiences and activities listed will be relevant to all research projects, nor is this list intended to be exhaustive. The applicant is encouraged to be innovative, yet pragmatic, when developing a dissemination plan. 

Examples of Potential Audience(s)

  • Researchers in similar fields
  • Researchers in other fields
  • Clinicians/Health practitioners
  • Policy makers
  • Government agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Health care managers and other decision makers
  • Public
  • Patients/patient groups
  • Community/community groups

 Examples of Planned Dissemination Activities

  • Peer-reviewed academic publication(s)
  • Abstract in academic conference proceedings
  • Presentation(s) at academic conferences
  • Research summaries
  • Presentation at workshop(s)
  • Education sessions to decision-makers/other identified stakeholder(s)/audience(s)
  • Briefs to identified stakeholders
  • Participation in community events such as Café Scientifique, town halls
  • Web-based or other technology-based dissemination
  • Plain language reporting
  • Knowledge adapted to user
  • Communication with media
  • Communication product development
  • Social marketing

Examples of Collaborations or Exchanges

  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Collaboration with identified target audience
  • Potential user involvement in research question development, methodology, dissemination
  • Participation in communities of practice
  • Networking

Examples of Implementation Activities

  • Implementation of evidence-based guidelines
  • Identification of  barriers to implementation
  • Development of strategies to address barriers
  • Evaluation of implementation efforts
  • Active involvement of stakeholders/ potential user in implementation plan

When grant recipients participate/organize dissemination activities, NSHRF support must be acknowledged (see Acknowledgement and Accountability).

References and Tools  

Jacobson, N., Butterill, D., & Goering, P. (2003). Development of a framework for knowledge translation: Understanding user context.Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, 8(2), 94-99.

Lavis, J.N., Robertson, D., Woodside, J.M., Mcleod, C.B., and Abelson, J. (2003) How Can Research Organizations More Effectively Transfer Research Knowledge to Decision Makers? The Milbank Quarterly 81 (2), 221–248. 

From research to practice: a knowledge transfer planning guide:

CIHR About Knowledge Translation:

“You Say ‘To-may-to(e)’ and I say To-mah-to(e)’: Bridging the Communications Gap Between Researchers and Policy Makers”:  

For further information about knowledge transfer and exchange, please contact:

Krista Connell
Acting Manager, REAL Knowledge Program
Ph: (902) 424-1528