Celebrating YaffleSearch engine assists collaboration
A yaffle of wood. A yaffle of fish. A yaffle of research?
A word drawn from Newfoundland English got a new meaning earlier this month, thanks to an initiative undertaken by Memorial University of Newfoundland. On Feb. 11, the university launched a new online resource – called Yaffle – aimed at providing greater accessibility to the university’s research expertise and research projects.
According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, a yaffle is defined as “an armful (of dried and salted cod-fish, kindling, etc.); a load.”
Memorial’s Yaffle (yaffle.ca) is a sophisticated online resource that allows users to find an expert, query research being done by the university in their geographic region, and even suggest research ideas.
Compiled by the university’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, the new resource is a search engine of Memorial’s expertise and community development resources.
Yaffle enables users, such as individuals, community groups, and governments, to search for expertise in a variety of fields. It contains nearly 1,000 lay summaries on various projects being carried out by the university, everything from marine transportation options for the Strait of Belle Isle to financial sustainability plans for not-for-profit provincial museums.
In addition, Yaffle provides a portal on over 400 experts in a range of fields, many of whom are available for media interviews or speaking engagements.
“Memorial University is one of the most innovative research facilities in Canada and Yaffle will make that research easily accessible to people living anywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador and, indeed, throughout the world,” said acting president Dr. Eddy Campbell. “We have a vast store of resources available and Yaffle is how we intend to share those resources. We want our communities to know how our expertise can be deployed for their benefit and improved well-being.
“For individuals, communities, businesses, governments and all kinds of organizations, finding out what research has been done and what expertise exists on a topic is essential to making informed decisions.”
“We’ve had discussions with partner organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador outside Memorial who see the potential of linking information on their expertise, research and projects, to enable more widespread access and sharing of knowledge,” said Dr. Rob Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre.
“Any organization, in the public, private or voluntary
sectors, that has a mandate to share knowledge, or that could
benefit by linking to it, would benefit by linking to
Dr. Greenwood also noted that Yaffle is getting national attention as a unique and effective tool. “There are knowledge mobilization experts around the country who are looking to Memorial and Yaffle as an example of what could become the Canadian vehicle for knowledge sharing. We have interest from several Canadian universities who are considering how they can use our technology and processes to apply in their own institutions.”
Dr. David Phipps, director, Research Services and Knowledge
Exchange at York University, is one expert who’s watching
Yaffle’s success very closely.
“Yaffle is a compelling experiment on how to identify,
develop and manage community-university partnerships. It has the
potential to do for knowledge mobilization and community-based
research what online dating services have done for interpersonal
relationships – enhanced access to opportunities for
relationships. I look forward to seeing the impact of Yaffle so
that we can evaluate the utility of the system.”
“Yaffle is a unique and compelling online resource that
will link Memorial’s reservoir of knowledge with communities
from Corner Brook to Nanaimo,” said Dr. Chad Gaffield,
president of the Social Societies and Humanities Research Council
of Canada. “Canada’s universities continue to develop
innovative projects like Yaffle which are important components of
knowledge mobilization. SSHRC is pleased to support this innovative
project that clearly demonstrates the value of social sciences and
humanities research to Canadians and the world.”
The launch included local musician Sean Panting who wrote and performed a song about Yaffle. “There is no doubt that this is a celebration,” Dr. Campbell said. “We do feel this is a critical initiative for the province. Memorial University has always been connected to the community, and Yaffle is a tremendous enhancement to our relationship with communities around the province.”
Researchers and community partners on the west coast of
Newfoundland and in Labrador gathered to join the celebration via
videoconference. At Memorial’s Sir Wilfred Grenfell College
in Corner Brook, Prof. Gerard Curtis of Grenfell’s visual
arts program, and Dr. Greg Wood, Corner Brook regional planner,
presented their experiences with Memorial’s research and
community outreach. In Labrador, Dr. Ron Sparkes of the Labrador
Institute and Marina Biasutti-Brown with the Nunatsiavut Government
shared their views on how important Yaffle is to accessing research
Formerly known as the Memorial University Regional Inventory
(MURI), Yaffle is also replacing Memorial’s long-running Book
of Experts, a media reference guide listing faculty and staff and
their areas of expertise. Funding for Yaffle has been provided by
the Harris Centre, Memorial University, the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada-Newfoundland
and the Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement.
Yaffle is now up and running and being continually updated, and
is available on the internet to communities around the province and
around the country. To visit Yaffle, go to www.yaffle.ca.