Knowledge Utilization Studies Program

Glossary

Dissemination
The spreading of knowledge or research, such as is done in scientific journals and at scientific conferences.

Innovation
“An idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption” (Rogers, 1995, p. 11). An innovation is a more focused concept than research and usually implies that the research has been translated in some way into a concrete form. An innovation is not necessarily research-based.

Diffusion
“The process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among members of a social system” (Rogers, 1995, p. 5).

Innovation diffusion
Innovation diffusion is more focused than research utilization and represents a particular kind of utilization concerned with the transfer of findings into a practice context. In classical diffusion theory, the term innovation diffusion does not imply that the idea, practice, or object resulted from a research study.

Adoption
The decision to adopt an innovation and has frequently been the dependent variable in innovation research.

Implementation
The execution of the adoption decision, that is, the innovation or the research is put into practice.

Utilization
Focused on assisting with the actual adoption process after dissemination and diffusion have occurred. When the term utilization is used in the context of "research utilization", it usually refers to a complex problem solving, critical thinking, and decision-making process undertaken by clinicians and not just the use of research in an instrumental way.

Knowledge utilization
The use of knowledge, regardless of the kind of knowledge.

Research utilization
A specific kind of knowledge utilization whereby the knowledge has a research base to substantiate it. It is a complex process in which knowledge, in the form of research, is transformed from the findings of one or more studies into instrumental, conceptual, or persuasive utilization.

Instrumental research utilization
A concrete application of the research, which is normally translated into a material and usable form, such as a protocol or set of guidelines.

Conceptual research utilization
Research findings from one or more studies that may change one’s thinking but not necessarily one’s particular or observable action.

Symbolic (persuasive) utilization
Involves the use of research findings from one or more studies as a persuasive (or political) tool to legitimate a position or practice.

Organizational factors
Those factors or characteristics of the organization that influence the diffusion of innovations or the utilization of research by practitioners (e.g. administrative support, access to research, size, complexity, staffing, organizational culture, etc.)

Innovation factors
Factors that influence the diffusion and adoption of research. Rogers (1983, 1994, 1995) has identified six: complexity of the innovation; perceived relative advantage of the innovation; compatibility of the innovation to existing values, experience and need; trialability, or the degree to which the innovation can be experimented with; observability, or the degree to which the results of implementing an innovation are visible; and relevance, the degree to which the research is applicable to practice. These "attributes of the innovation" may not hold precisely for "research findings", and additional research needs to be done in this area.

Individual factors
Those characteristics of the individual that influence the utilization of research by practitioners. Examples of characteristics thought to be relevant include: age, education level, autonomy, problem solving ability, open-mindedness, etc.