Monday, 14 January 2013

How much do you know about zoonoses?

The Model and the Marriage Broker

I've noticed a number of jobs advertised with an intriguing title recently - 'Knowledge Broker". It seems that the intermediary, skilled in making connections between those working in similar fields in the science sector, is now well established as a career choice. The most well known are probably working for the UK Knowledge Transfer Networks, connecting university R&D departments with commercial opportunities.

There seem to be many others, exemplified by an ad for a Knowledge Broker 'to work with a range of researchers and funders to shape and draw together the findings from ZELS (Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems) programme'. No, I didn't know what zoonoses were either, but the point is that the role requires the individual to 'broker and coordinate the flow of knowledge between the ZELS teams, funders and influential people in international and international organisations'.
Applicants are required to have an 'international reputation and recognised expertise in the field'.

It would be interesting to know just how much expertise the individual is required to have. Experts with deep knowledge are not necessarily the best at facilitating the exchange of knowledge in an objective way. Beliefs gained over many years may mean that they may not be completely open-minded, particularly if they are regarded as a leading authority on a topic. They may make assumptions, where an individual with a more superficial knowledge may spot opportunities or ask more objective questions. The ideal candidate could be someone from the sector who is credible in their field, curious, connected and a good communicator. Deep technical knowledge may come further down the criteria list.

Facilitating knowledge transfer between experts is just one of the topics of interest to the KIN 'Knowledge Retention and Transfer' special interest group. We will be discussing this and related topics at our next SIG Roundtable meeting to be hosted by the British Council in London on 6th March.

By the way if you want to know what 'zoonoses' are, they may be the vector for the next global pandemic!

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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