NCDDR's Community of Practice Activities
The National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR) is working with grantees of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) to encourage researchers to expand their common understanding and to jointly address issues related to research quality, standards, and guidelines. To achieve this, the NCDDR is modeling the use of Communities of Practice (CoPs) as a knowledge translation (KT) strategy.
The purpose of this CoP is to help NIDRR grantees identify, examine, and discuss salient issues regarding the involvement of under-represented groups in research studies, the utilization of research outcomes, and strategies for effective outreach to diverse populations.
This CoP focuses on issues related to research quality, including systematic reviews, and their application to disability and rehabilitation research such as that funded by NIDRR. Quality is also explored in relation to non-RCT designs such as quasi-experimental research and single subject designs.
NIDRR Grantees and CoPs
The NCDDR conducted a brief survey in fall 2004 addressing the area of communities of practice with all of the NIDRR-funded "Centers of Excellence" (Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers and Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers), and Model Systems (burn, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury). A sample of Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) and Field-Initiated Projects (FIP) was included to total 100 grantees. The response rate was 96%, with 96 surveys were returned. Respondents reported great variability in familiarity with and interest in CoPs. The survey revealed the following:
- 40% of respondents reported familiarity with the concept of CoPs.
- 16% reported having direct experience participating in a CoP.
- 51% of grantees reported an interest in participating in a CoP with researchers from other NIDRR-funded projects.
- 47% responded "Unsure" when asked if they'd like to participate in a CoP, with several adding comments that they would like to know more before committing to a "Yes" response.
- 2% of grantees responded "No" when asked if they'd like to participate in a CoP with other NIDRR researchers (Martin, Starks, & Westbrook, 2005).
These results suggest a need to provide technical assistance and information resources on CoPs that are tailored for the NIDRR grantee community. The results also facilitated the identification of grantees with experience and interest in CoPs.
In August 2005, the NCDDR asked 100 NIDRR grantees about their interest in CoPs as a topic for training and technical assistance (TA) and as a strategy for working with NIDRR grantees. The grantees surveyed again included Centers of Excellence, Model Systems, and a sample of other NIDRR-funded projects. Although it was not one of the most requested TA topics, 19% of respondents indicated that CoPs would be a TA topic of interest. About 22% of respondents identified CoPs as an effective strategy for the NCDDR in working with NIDRR grantees.