Your K&A plan is a critical component in turning knowledge into practice.
You need to complete a K&A plan as part of your early project milestones. Activities listed in the K&A plan will need to be reported against milestone reports. The K&A plan is considered an iterative document which may change over time, once submitted.
It is expected that the research team will undertake the majority of the work to implement a K&A plan and that activities undertaken will be funded from the project budget.
The programme in which your project sits will be responsible for the broader K&A work including synthesis work across projects, to which you might contribute.
The extent of your K&A plan and implementation will depend upon a number of considerations including:
Support is available from Land & Water Australia's Knowledge and Adoption Officers and Program Coordinators.
The K&A plan template guidelines and the template are designed as a guide, not a rulebook. These guidelines will help you with writing your K&A plan.
This step is often forgotten! To implement an effective K&A plan, it is important to have a good understanding of the perceptions, needs and concerns of your stakeholders.
To better understand priority groups and individuals, make sure you can answer the following questions about each target group/individual:
Listed below are tactics for identifying what is already known about people’s perceptions, concerns and communication needs. Results from surveys and questionnaires are useful for finding out about perceptions while the results of qualitative methods of research are useful for finding out about concerns and communication needs. Surveys are the only approach that yields statistically significant data. Other approaches, including those listed below, do provide a ‘snapshot’ of each target group/individual, but, because they may not give the full picture, they should be seen as preliminary assessments rather than final analyses. If you use 2 or more of these approaches and the information seems consistent, your ‘snapshot’ is more likely to be an accurate reflection of the full picture.
Identifying target groups and individuals is largely a process of thinking through, as specifically as possible, who you want to reach or influence through the project. You also need to identify the method(s) by which you want to reach them:
Consider too the sort of relationship you have, or want to have, with each group/individual. Is it an impersonal ‘informing’ one-way relationship or a strong interactive ‘engaging’ relationship? The stronger the relationship, the higher the priority of the group/individual.
The table below shows that, for your high-priority target groups/individuals (those you want to engage with), you should use all methods of communication.
|Type of relationship|
|Priority of groups/individuals||Informing||Targeted one-way||Targeted two-way||Engaging|
|Low-medium priority (providing information)||High||High||Low||Low|
|Low priority (providing information)||High||Low||Low||Low|
Answering the following questions will help you identify the groups/individuals you need to reach. Those groups/individuals that appear in more than one response are particularly important for you to reach.
Natural resource management projects generally have 3 major types of user—policy makers, planners and practitioners. The wider community may also be interested in the project. The priority you assign to groups/individuals will depend on your project. For example, if farmers are involved through participatory action research, they will be a high-priority group for you to engage with.
Use the checklist provided to help you identify your target groups/individuals.
Then, take a reality check on your list of target groups/individuals by considering the following four questions:
Natural resource use regulators or policy makers – those with a responsibility for either regulating the resource, developing strategies or policies about the resource, or developing legislation:
Natural resource managers – those who directly manage the resource related to the research issue and need information for their planning:
Natural resource users – those who directly use the natural resources that are being researched:
Natural resource use advisors – including both private and government advisors about impacts on or use of the natural resource
Natural resource use funders – those who fund your project
The broader Australian community – those with an in interest in the natural resource issue through either their general interest in environmental/sustainability issues and/or their involvement in recreation, tourism or using the products of the resources (food and fibre):
Local residents/community groups
Internal – those within your organisation or in collaborating organisations who may need to be involved in the communication
The key audience segments which Land & Water Australia and its programs address represent areas of LWA’s market that use different channels and require different messages.
Each Segment comprises sub-groups, and some programs may only address a subset of the groups in each segment. Nonetheless, the segments are homogenous enough that a communication for one sub-group will usually be appropriate for another in that segment. There is a small amount of cross-over in some segments, where sub-groups may belong to more than one audience.
It should be noted that this analysis assumes a second variable (subject of interest) is also considered when planning activities, however in most cases this is defined by the program (i.e. NPSI deals with Irrigation issues).
Accurate information packaged to serve their clients (the Farmers and Landholders segment)
Relevant LWA subjects include: Irrigation, Climate Variability, Weed management, Soil, Mixed farming, Salinity, River and Waterway management.
This group is organisations and individuals who are involved in community engagement of NRM issues, in the same way NRM facilitators might engage agencies and organisations.
Increasing awareness and participation in local or regional NRM issues. Support community and other stakeholder involvement in NRM.
They generally use research findings for education and practical management of NRM issues and sustainable resource use.
Outcomes in this segment could be linked to the Community skills, knowledge and engagement Priority Area of the Caring for our Country program.
Farmers and landholders require practical, on-the-ground approaches to sustainable land management. They do not use research findings specifically, but the knowledge or tools derived from that research.
Irrigation, Climate Variability, Weed management, Soil, Mixed farming, Salinity, River and Waterway management
Communicating with this group is likely to be difficult, compared with most other segments, and it is worth considering whether another channel is more efficient, such as Agricultural Extension or Community Engagement.
Managers, politicians and other decision makers and leaders. This group tends to be quite similar across sectors.
Their role is predominantly decision making/guiding/finding resources/spending money. They rely on the subject specialists in their team to come up with the answers to the problems their organisations have to manage. They require sufficient information to know when their subject specialists are doing the right thing.
This group will also often working at a high-level thinking/strategy level, however they may be unable to consider this activity in their day-to-day work. The strategy and thinking will often be done at specific times of the year, facilitated through special sessions or discussion (including conferences, strategy workshops etc).
They are time-poor and increasingly turn to the internet to get fast, subject-specific information to support decision making processes. They are likely to take the advice of their staff on important issues, and often their own specialist subject is “institutional knowledge”, or how their own organisation works.
They will reference internal policy and guidelines, summary briefs (both internally generated and from news or specialist sources), daily newspapers and magazines.
They are increasingly unlikely to use libraries and information repositories, corporate magazines, scientific journals and annual reports, or other information-heavy documents.
Communicate Government policies and initiatives and provide opportunities for direct community feedback on NRM issues to Government. Engage Local Government in NRM at the regional scale; promote and disseminate information about Australian Government NRM policies and programs, and assist Local Government with the development of NRM policies
Determining priorities, legislation, allocation and development opportunities; guiding policies and frameworks (Federal); structures for on-ground and local/regional planning (State). Sustainability of state resources. Benchmarking.
Uses research findings to develop, evidence and influence policy and regulation decisions.
Social, Institutional, Governance Issues; Water regulation and irrigation, Climate issues,
Individuals in this group are likely to stretch from Environmental Science through to Engineering backgrounds, so there will be some variance in the types of messages constructed for this group. However, they are likely to be fairly similar within a given subject area.
Resource planning (for specific regions), water planning and environmental flows, operational data, compliance, flood and drought response, conservation, environmental and ecosystem services.
Uses research for planning and practical delivery of NRM outcomes. Also sometimes called “on-the-ground”.
Service provider are also likely to be interested in: Operational, compliance data, annual water accounts, and environmental flows
This group is different from other audiences, as it represents individuals with whom LWA conducts a business relationship with (contracting research), rather than and Adoption relationship. Consequently, it should be treated differently.
Uses research findings to influence and guide new research, research priorities, or through synthesis.
Because information about research is quite different from the adoptable learning’s resulting from research, this group should be communicated with separately from other groups.
Usually, research and funding news relating to a specific program or subject area, but also research strategy, calls for funding and other administrative material.
Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in which a community or other group takes on the role of researcher or co-researcher i.e. they own the research and are responsible for putting the results of the research into action. If professional researchers are also involved, they are equal participants with the community or group doing the research. PAR requires that all research participants:
PAR is designed to break down the barriers between researchers and the users of their research. It makes the research immediately relevant and applicable to the local need. It is particularly useful when long-term change is needed and in situations where community groups can gradually apply the research methods to create change.
PAR is an iterative process with 4 phases:
After each of the 4 phases, it is important that participants reflect on what has happened and decide whether they can practically apply the collected information and/or whether more research is required. In this way, PAR is a continuing process of change.
PAR resembles other types of research, such as action research, participant observation, participatory research, collaborative inquiry, emancipatory research, action learning, and contextual action research. But only PAR embraces all of the following five principles (Grundy 1982):
When you use PAR, you gain access to the knowledge and expertise of the people who are most affected by your research problem. As a result, PAR:
PAR also has some disadvantages compared to traditional research methods:
When is it appropriate to use PAR? PAR is particularly useful for:
PAR is not useful in the following situations (Whyte 1989):
Anyone who is connected to the research topic! Representatives of schools, organisations, businesses, industry, government agencies, farmers/landholders, community groups and research institutions can all participate. However, this does not mean that everyone who is connected to the topic needs to participate.
PAR is used extensively in health care and education research, and its popularity is increasing in other fields including rural research and development, on-farm client-oriented research, and urban community development.
Examples of PAR in research
Kimberley locals know their fish
Murdoch University’s David Morgan and Mark Allen embarked on a project to survey the fish of the Kimberley’s Fitzroy River. Consulting with the Kimberley Language Resource Centre and a large number of local people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, they developed a series of brochures illustrating the fish of the river system.
In the brochures, they provided English common names for the fish, scientific names, and Indigenous names in 5 of the 6 language groups of the west Kimberley—Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Ngarinyin, Nyikina and Walmajarri.
Three of the freshwater fish species discovered had Indigenous names but had never been previously described or given English or scientific names.
The research inspired an LWA-funded project to look at the cultural significance of the fish of the Kimberley’s King Edward River. By using PAR, the researchers gained access to expert knowledge that they might otherwise have missed. Reflecting on their project gave them a new perspective on the significance of fish in other river systems.
I want to find out more: Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
Estuarine health in Little Swanport
Oyster farmers in Little Swanport on the east coast of Tasmania are playing an integral role in research that is looking at how their estuary responds to changed freshwater inflows.
The project started when a concerned farmer organised a meeting between key representatives and funding agencies. Now, the project is funded by LWA and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, and is a joint effort of the community and local researchers.
Jeff Ross from the University of Tasmania says, ‘[the farmers] get directly involved in the science at all levels, including preparing chlorophyll samples and sorting phytoplankton samples’. But their participation includes much more than field support. They provide access to their boat ramp and storage facilities, and they donate oysters and water samples of different qualities for experiments, among other activities.
‘They have worked in the estuary on a daily basis for over 20 years and have an incredible wealth of knowledge and insight about how the estuary operates. This knowledge is invaluable to us as scientists given the short-term nature of our project.’
‘You could say that we are collecting quantitative data to help prove or disprove some of their anecdotal observations, such as how important freshwater inflow is to oyster production.’
The Little Swanport catchment has a history of involving various target groups, including the community, in developing catchment management plans.
‘Without their participation, much of what we are doing in Little Swanport would be difficult or impossible.’
I want to find out more: Rip Rap magazine no 29
More PAR information:
The intended impact of your project essentially links back to your project's objectives. In undertaking your research, you intend to provide some new knowledge which would improve the management of natural resources. What is this impact? The following prompts may assist you in determining your intended impact:
Examples of intended impacts:
Who is involved in, affected by or interested in your project research in natural resource management can contribute to a range of activities. In the strategy we categorise them into 3 areas:
Note: These are a guide only - some individuals and organisations sit in more than one category.
Your project may be relevant to some or all of these sectors. Understanding their attitudes and practices concerning the research and/or the issue the research addresses will assist you in reaching them more effectively.
A comprehensive contact list for your target participants and audiences is fundamental to undertaking engagement and communication activities. It also assists in monitoring and evaluation.
I want to find out more:
How are they to be engaged (method)
There is a broad range of methods to manage knowledge for adoption, from direct engagement or collaborative research through to tailored communication products and, finally, indirect information provision.
Selection of your methods depends on the content, target audience, required outcomes and resources available for implementation or delivery. Not all of the methods will be applicable to all projects.
The method may often be influenced by the ‘adoptability’ of the research e.g. relevance, trialability, skills required and cost implications.
I want to find out more:
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) at the project level links to program and corporate monitoring and evaluation. The monitoring and evaluation column refers to each individual line item that you have identified a target and method against – it does not refer to evaluating your entire project. It shouldn’t duplicate any other M&E work or project work that you do either.
It is useful to consider measuring how you have undertaken these activities as well as the outputs and outcomes. For example, feedback on how a steering committee or workshop has been run can be useful for making immediate improvements while the project is still underway. Measuring outputs is the easiest step – e.g. how many events have been run and how many people attended. Capturing outcomes can be more difficult in the lifespan of a project, particularly adoption outcomes. These are more likely to be measured at a program or corporate level with techniques such as Return on Investment.
I want to find out more:
A K&A project plan should consider methods for project implementation and methods for project legacy when the research project is completed.
Your project may have important outcomes for adoption beyond the lifecycle of your project. A legacy plan ensures the research outcomes are not forgotten upon completion of your project. Managing the project’s legacy may be undertaken as part of the program.
I want to find out more:
Before preparing a publication, presentation or media release contact Land & Water Australia to check any style, branding or media guidelines you should be using.
Formatting, style and branding issues are best handled early in production to minimise angst and cost.
Monitoring and evaluating (M&E) your project's K&A activity, such as a workshop, gives you information to assess that activity. M&E provides an opportunity to learn and improve as you go, feeding the results back into research and employing adaptive management.
Knowing how, where and by whom your research is being heard about, tested, or applied can also:
I want to find out more:
As with research, developing the most relevant objectives, performance indicators, questions and methods is usually well worth the time invested.
For example: if your knowledge and adoption objectives are to increase farmers’ awareness and adoption of native grasses for grazing in Newhaven:
Your evaluation methods for this performance indicator may include polling farmers at a community meeting, conducting short phone interviews with a sample of local farmers, discussing with the key leaders in the farming community and/or advisers.
One of your performance indicators may be:
Discuss your survey questions with a sample of researchers and/or natural resource managers you know, and ask them for their feedback:
Research that contributes to different areas will need different approach
If your research contributes to government policy then the stakeholders, knowledge and adoption approaches, and performance indicators you use may be different to those you would use for a collaborative industry project that contributes to on-ground practice.
The two main types of monitoring and evaluation methods are qualitative and quantitative.
Allow stakeholders to explore issues and provide feedback in more depth and complexity, unbiased by set questions. They can give details of evidence, examples, problems and ideas, but can be more difficult and costly to analyse and report.
Qualitative evaluation methods include:
These are relatively easy to analyse and report, but don’t tell you ‘why’ results are as they are.
Quantitative evaluation methods include:
Quantitative evaluation methods allow you to:
Some quantitative evaluation questions:
Knowledge and adoption outcomes can be measured in a variety of ways, from short electronic surveys to in-depth case studies. A combination of evaluation methods is often the best way to go.