Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research

KTDRR's Dissemination Self-Inventory

Why an Inventory?

This modest investment of time and effort can pay off in two significant ways:

  • It can make your project proposals more competitive as you more effectively address NIDRR concerns about dissemination and utilization (D&U).
  • It can improve your capacity to identify and reach the intended users of your project's research outcomes.

NIDRR is paying increasing attention to research outcomes, call for greater dissemination and use of research outputs. At the same time, the knowledge base regarding effective D&U has expanded greatly, and the rapid spread of online technology has created unprecedented opportunities for information sharing. As a result, effective D&U strategies have become an increasingly important component of any disability research plan.

What Does it Address?

The self-inventory is divided into four major sections, with questions addressing:

  • organizational structures and policies,
  • research design,
  • dissemination plan, and
  • evaluation plan

You may wonder what organizational structure, research design, and evaluation plans have to do with dissemination. The answer lies in the relationship between dissemination and use. NIDRR and other agencies are concerned with the utility of research outputs; they seek ways of assuring that such outputs are actually used by those who need them. That is why you so often see the phrase "dissemination and utilization," not merely "dissemination." D&U means not simply spreading the word about a new treatment protocol or assistive device or service model, but employing methods and materials that will actually get the protocol or device or model into use by audiences beyond the scope of the project participants.

With a focus on use, the literature tells us, the intended users of research outcomes become central - and not only to dissemination efforts, but to the entire research, development, dissemination, and utilization process. Users influence the way organizations are - or should be - structured and staffed, the research topics that are selected, and the way the research is carried out, as well as the content and media used in dissemination. Evaluation, too, becomes crucial, for without evaluation, how will you demonstrate whether and how you've actually achieved the goal of use?

In addition to looking at the effectiveness of your plans in terms of organizational, research design, dissemination, and evaluation concerns, the self-inventory also encourages you to assess your plans as they address the four basic elements of dissemination:

  • the intended users,
  • the dissemination source,
  • the content to be disseminated, and
  • the dissemination media used for specific audiences.

The scoring guide provides a format you can use to analyze your responses according to these four elements. Again, concerns about the intended users of your research outcomes are paramount.

Finally, it is impossible to focus on intended users without addressing the diverse characteristics, experiences, needs, and interests among those users. Therefore, a number of questions on the self-inventory address the extent to which your plans attend to the diversity of intended user groups. The scoring guide also provides a format you can use to assess your plans along this dimension.

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Developed under NIDILRR Project Number: H133A060028 (2005) & 90DP0027

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