Dissemination is an active process compared to diffusion, which is passive, untailored and untargeted communication.
The purpose of disseminating research is to achieve impact. Key messages and implications of research are targeted to decision makers and stakeholders in a way that encourages them to utilise the research findings.
Adapted from the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement Glossary of Knowledge Exchange Terms.
A dissemination strategy aims to transmit useful and useable knowledge to appropriate target audiences. Audiences include researchers, healthcare professionals, patients and the public, policy makers and regulatory bodies.
The key messages need to be tailored for each different audience and delivered in the relevant media, not just professional journals; for example newsletters, websites, social media, reports, leaflets, posters.
A dissemination strategy is an evolving plan developed at the beginning of the research planning process and aims to:
- Develop clear, simple and active main messages or key implications from the research results
- Identify credible ‘carriers’ of the message
- Pinpoint key decision maker audiences for the messages
- Develop ways to deliver the messages that are appropriate to the audiences being targeted and that encourage them to factor the research implications into their work.
Dissemination resources from CSP
CSP library collection and online library catalogue
The CSP’s online public access library catalogue contains over 10,000 items, including books, CSP publications, journals, theses and ‘grey’ literature held in the CSP collection in London.
Many of these items are available for CSP members to borrow. The catalogue also lists useful websites, e-books and e-documents, with web links direct to the content.
The CSP has negotiated a package of online resources for members, including full text access to some journals. For details of the full text access status for any journal, view the journal’s record in the online library catalogue.
The CSP subscribes to a range of allied health and medical databases which CSP members can access. Some databases also provide full text access to part of their content. Non-CSP members can access a range of free databases.
The CSP Library holds a collection of Masters and Doctoral theses written by CSP members, and welcomes donations of theses relating to physiotherapy research.
This provides an opportunity to disseminate your research and potentially to be cited in other publications. For further information, email the library team.
Other dissemination resources
Primary Health Care Research & Information Service. Introduction to research dissemination.
Schober J, Farrington A, Lacey A. Presenting and disseminating research. NHS National Institute for Health Research, Research Design Service EM/YH (2009)
Dziedzic, K. Chapter 1.11 Strategies for dissemination of research. In: Moore, A; Lyon, P (ed). Getting involved in research: a pocket guide. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, National Physiotherapy Research Network, 2009. Research Utilization Support and Help (RUSH) project.
Developing an Effective Dissemination Plan. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (Project #H133A031402); 2001.
Chapter I: Communications strategy. In: European Commission. European research: a guide to successful communications. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities; 2004.
Dissemination planning tools
European Commission. Communicating science: A scientist’s survival kit. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities; 2006.
Carpenter D, Nieva V, Albaghal T, Sorra J. Dissemination Planning Tool: Exhibit A: Volume 4. Programs, Tools, and Products (2006). In: Advances in Patient Safety: From Research to Implementation: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, US Department of Health and Human Services.
Dissemination to researchers and academic audiences is traditionally by publication or presenting at conferences. However, dissemination involves much more than journal publications. It includes media stories, use of on-line media, presentations and personal approaches.
Science Media Centre (SMC)
The Science media centre is an independent press office helping to ensure that the public have access to the best scientific evidence and expertise through the news media when science hits the headlines. It provides advice and support to scientists engaging with the media.
Chapter 4: Publications. In: European Commission. European research: a guide to successful communications. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities; 2004.
Primary Health Care Research and Information Service
Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement Communication notes: Dealing with the media (2010)
Social media are the forms of electronic communication that people use to share opinions, information and experiences. A distinguishing feature of social media is that its content is user-generated; the people who write and/or comment on it are the ones who read it.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Social Media Guidance. London: The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy; 2012.
This resource discusses the opportunities that social media presents for new ways of working, researching and learning. It also aims to help develop an understanding of the relevant legal, regulatory and professional framework which determines the appropriate use of social media in the health and social care context.
Cann A, Dimitriou K, Holley T. Social media: A guide for researchers. Research Information Network; 2011.
Mollett A, Moran D, Dunleavy P. Using Twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities. London: London School of Economics and Political Science; 2011.
Came, MA. Introduction to... social media in primary health care. Getting Started guides. Primary Health Care Research and Information Service; 2013.
McKee, R. Ethical issues in using social media for health and health care research. Health Policy Volume 110, Issue 2–3, May 2013, pp 298–301.
Alternative approaches to dissemination
Terminology in relation to dissemination and alternative approaches is inconsistent. Definitions overlap and there are blurred boundaries between dissemination and targeted ways of increasing the uptake of research findings in practice, policy and service delivery.
Terms in use include: knowledge translation, knowledge exchange, knowledge transfer and exchange, knowledge brokering, knowledge utilisation, knowledge mobilisation, knowledge-to-action and knowledge management.
For a useful table of terms and definitions see: What is knowledge mobilization? Research Supporting Practice in Education, OISE, University of Toronto
Alternative approaches include linkage and exchange models to increase research impact, involving potential users of research in the research, utilising networks, using knowledge brokers to bridge the gap between users and producers of research.