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Community Contribution

From Dusty Shelves to Well-Worn Resources: Knowledge Translation Turns Products into Tools

Mar 26, 2024
USAID Biodiversity Division

In 2020, Linda Keuntje of USAID's Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC) activity conducted a desk review of knowledge translation in response to one of TNRC's learning questions: “What factors commonly enable or limit changes to practice based on new information such as new research or tailored information products?” Keuntje's work inspired the USAID Biodiversity Division to explore the role of knowledge translation in strengthening biodiversity conservation programming across its portfolio.

The Biodiversity Division found that knowledge translation through intentional planning, audience analysis, careful formatting, strong recommendations, and user-focused platforms can make the difference between knowledge products that sit on a shelf or in an inbox and knowledge products that are read, applied, and positively impact future work. Read on for a primer on knowledge translation, and check out the full white paper now available on Learning Lab.

What is knowledge translation?

Knowledge translation is the distillation and sharing of knowledge so it is relevant to other practitioners as users. 

Why is knowledge translation important?

Prioritizing the distillation and sharing of knowledge through knowledge translation can help ensure useful information reaches the people who need it at the right time and in a format they can use to inform current and future programming. It is an important way to support evidence-based practice.

Who should practice knowledge translation?

USAID staff, technical assistance providers, and implementing partners can all contribute to strengthening development programming and outcomes by applying best practices in knowledge translation to their work.

When should knowledge translation occur?

Knowledge translation should be taken into consideration throughout the KM cycle, from the initial scoping of a knowledge product to its final dissemination.

How can development practitioners practice good knowledge translation?

Development practitioners can practice good knowledge translation when developing knowledge products by understanding the intended audience, targeting dissemination to reach that audience, intentionally tailoring the format and structure of the product, providing actionable and strong recommendations, and taking steps to ensure the audience will validate the final product. For the audience to validate the knowledge product as useful and applicable to their work, the content of the product itself must derive from a strong evidence base in which the evidence is accurately represented.

What's an example of knowledge translation best practices in action?

The Knowledge Translation Best Practices white paper contains several examples of successful knowledge translation, including “Biodiversity How-To Guide 3: Defining Outcomes & Indicators for Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning in USAID Biodiversity Programming.” This how-to guide for biodiversity practitioners exists on BiodiversityLinks in multiple formats and languages and is reachable by multiple paths on the site. It is available as an interactive web version but also as downloadable PDFs in English and Spanish because the authors practiced good knowledge translation from scoping to dissemination.