Diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. (Rogers 2003).


Dissemination can be defined as “the active approach of spreading evidence-based interventions to target audiences via determined channels using planned strategies” (Rabin & Brownson, 2012).

Dissemination is about ensuring the findings from a research study reach those who can benefit from them. It involves:

  • Planned active efforts to communicate relevant research messages, in a timely way, to identified targeted audiences through appropriate channels.
  • The knowledge producer actively spreading key research messages.
  • Using appropriate methods relevant to the study and the audience.

Evidence based practice

The HSE manual for Evidence Based Practice uses the following definition:

“Evidence-Based Practice requires that decisions about health care are based on the best available, current, valid and relevant evidence. These decisions should be made by those receiving care, informed by the tacit and explicit knowledge of those providing care, within the context of available resources. All health care professionals need to understand the principles of Evidence Based Practice (EBP), recognise it in action, implement evidence-based policies, and have a critical attitude to their own practice and to evidence. Without these skills professionals will find it difficult to provide best practice.”

See also:

Impact of research

Impact “occurs when research generates benefits (health, economic, social and cultural) in addition to building the academic knowledge base. Its mechanisms are complex and reflect the multiple ways in which knowledge is generated and utilised” (Greenhalgh et al, 2016). They conclude that ‘(1) different approaches to research impact assessment are appropriate in different circumstances; (2) the most robust and sophisticated approaches are labour-intensive and not always feasible or affordable; (3) whilst most metrics tend to capture direct and proximate impacts, more indirect and diffuse elements of the research-impact link can and should be measured; and (4) research on research impact is a rapidly developing field with new methodologies on the horizon’.

Impact of research can be classified in terms of cultural, economic, environmental, health, political, scientific, social, technological, training impacts (European Science Foundation). 

Research can bring benefits to patients, population, health services, economy, academia. It can also bring about changes in activity or understanding including:

  • Improvements to health and wellbeing
    • Contributions to research knowledge
    • Economic benefits to health services and the economy
    • Adding value and reducing waste.

Implementation science

Implementation science is a study of methods and strategies that promote the uptake and systematic integration of interventions that have been demonstrated to be effective by research findings. It is about promoting the uptake of evidence-based research findings into health care practice and policy making. (Peters et al 2013).

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property can be described as the products of intellectual or creative activity. This can take the form of novel ideas, innovation or research.  It might involve inventions, techniques, drug development, processes, that can be given legal recognition of ownership through intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights can take the form of copyright, patents, trademarks or design rights.

Knowledge brokering

Knowledge brokers are intermediaries who develop relationships and networks between knowledge producers/researchers and the users of knowledge by providing links to sources of knowledge and research evidence. This enables users of knowledge to access the best available research evidence to inform decision making. Knowledge brokering involves linking colleagues to a variety of research, knowledge and information resources.

Knowledge creation

Knowledge creation is the development of new ideas and new knowledge. It involves identifying the knowledge and evidence that exists, synthesising that knowledge or evidence and presenting it in a format that is accessible to a knowledge user.

Knowledge exchange

‘Knowledge exchange is collaborative problem-solving between researchers and decision-makers that happens through linkage and exchange. Effective knowledge exchange involves interaction between decision-makers and researchers and results in mutual learning through the process of planning, producing, disseminating, and applying existing or new research in decision-making’. (Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement 2019).

Knowledge mobilisation

Knowledge mobilisation is defined as ‘making knowledge readily accessible and useful to individuals and groups by developing ways to work collaboratively’ (Health Information Research Unit). Knowledge mobilisation is about moving available research knowledge into active use. It tries to make connections between research knowledge and policy and practice to improve outcomes. This involves the sharing of knowledge between research producers and research users.

Knowledge translation

Knowledge Translation is defined as “a dynamic and iterative process that includes synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically sound application of knowledge to improve the health of Canadians, provide more effective health services and products, and strengthen the health care system.” – Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 2010. About knowledge translation [Internet] Ottawa: The Institutes; Available from:

Knowledge transfer

Knowledge transfer is the process of sharing or disseminating knowledge and research from one party to another. It is a process of creating, organising and distributing knowledge, learning and skills to ensure it is available to others.  Methods of transferring knowledge can include:

  • mentorship
  • communities of practice
  • shadowing
  • paired working


The HSE Action Plan for Health Research 019 – 2029 uses the following definition of research:

“the attempt to derive generalisable or transferable new knowledge to answer or refine relevant questions with scientifically sound methods” – UK Research Governance Policy Framework.

Research Translation

Research translation is a process of knowledge generation and transfer that enables those utilising the developed knowledge to apply it. This definition acknowledges that, “once generated, knowledge flows can be multidirectional and non-sequential” (Searles et al, 2016).

It is the process whereby knowledge is passed anywhere along the translational pathway i.e. research findings are translated into practice, policy or further research (Davidson, 2011). The translational pathway is a bidirectional pathway, spanning four phases, which supports the move of research from bench to bedside to population health (Szilagyi, 2009, Davidson, 2011). The four phases are:

  • T1: the translation of basic research into a potential clinical application.
  • T2: efficacy studies, in which new interventions are trialled under optimal conditions.
  • T3: effectiveness studies, where promising phase 2 interventions are trialled in ‘real world’ settings;

T4: impact studies, which examine the impact of a new intervention/guideline at a population level.