Feb. 11, 2009
A yaffle of wood. A yaffle of fish. A yaffle of research?
A word drawn from Newfoundland English got a new meaning today, thanks to an initiative undertaken by Memorial University of Newfoundland. 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 Memorial 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 Yaffle.”
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.”
“On behalf of the Provincial Government, I extend congratulations to Memorial University of Newfoundland on the launch of this important new research tool,” said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. “Yaffle will help Memorial’s researchers get better connected to the broader community, and in turn this will help all of us build a sustainable knowledge-based society and economy for the province’s future.”
“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.”
Today’s 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 at Memorial.
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.