Since I started in my position about a year and a half ago, I have been searching for and reading as many resources as possible on best practices in Aboriginal economic development with the goal of writing a literature review. I searched academic databases and spent hours on end with my good friend Google Scholar. And after months of (admittedly on-and-off) reading, writing, and revising, I thought that I had produced a fairly complete draft. But about an hour after I had forwarded it to colleagues for review, I stumbled upon yet another resource that should be incorporated. How had I missed it? And how many other such studies — buried in obscure outlying regions of the internet — might there be?
Particularly ironic was a statement in the introduction to this study (commissioned by government) that one of the goals was to share the findings with Aboriginal communities and government agencies to identify areas for future research and help develop more appropriate policies. I don't doubt the sincerity of the assertion, but if it is this difficult to unearth the findings of a study when conducting a literature review, how can we expect the communities we serve to access the information?
There's no question that those of us engaged in applied research employ a variety of tactics, from community info sessions and church bulletin notices to newspaper articles and academic publication. We archive copies of our work in institutions that are particularly appropriate (such as the Mi'kmaq Resource Centre for those of us working with Mi'kmaw communities). Increasingly, we are turning to social media, posting to facebook, twitter, and blogs. But are we reaching our intended audiences and those who would benefit from our work? How can we use these tools more effectively to ensure we do?