An ongoing challenge research communicators face is staying informed on the research outcomes at their institutions that are enabled by CFI investments.
Some institutions have taken steps to facilitate research communications, including sharing the results. For example, they have:
- Created research communicator positions, often located within their research offices;
- Set up mechanisms to share information between their research offices and communications on an ongoing basis — e.g. to inform communications when outcomes are mentioned in a CFI project progress report;
- Established regular meetings of the research-based business units with research communications representatives in attendance;
- Used various progress reports generated by their institution, such as annual reports and Board reports, to garner communications leads;
- Implemented processes that trigger media relations to work with researchers to develop news releases and arrange interviews when a researcher publishes a scientific paper; and,
- Shared information between knowledge transfer offices and research communicators on research outcomes, such as patents granted and industry collaborations.
Here’s how one institution keeps stakeholders informed and updated on the funding decisions and research:
The University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia is a large and complex institution. It has established an effective system to ensure timely communications around CFI funding decisions to internal and external stakeholders across its multiple faculties, sites and campuses.
Once the Institutional Programs Office receives funding decisions, it immediately forwards the information to the communications team in the Vice-President Research + Innovation Office, along with certain individuals in the university’s Government Relations and Media Relations offices. This team convenes to determine the most suitable options for communicating the news once embargoes are lifted, and informs any key internal stakeholders. The location of a national or regional CFI announcement and the scale of awards received by UBC are two of the factors that help determine the nature of the public communications and which office will take the lead.
Together the team identifies, where relevant, suitable researchers who could be featured in any announcement or event. The VPR office also ensures that communications managers in the relevant faculties are informed of successful applications and of the probable timing for lifting the embargo. This allows these communicators to produce faculty-specific materials to support any institutional-level announcement.
As announcement dates are confirmed, plans are finalized and shared with this broader communications network. The lead office is responsible for making the institutional announcement (which can range from an online posting to a media event) and informs the other members of the network once this occurs, triggering the publication of faculty-specific materials and social media activities.
UBC finds that coordinating the announcement across a decentralized university relies on passing the information through established channels, which is more effective than tasking a single point person to communicate to all stakeholders.
Managing Director, Research Support Services
Office of the Vice-President, Research + Innovation
Email: sharon.wu [at] ubc.ca