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Knowledge transfer
Sylviane Duval


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Short-term knowledge transfer practitioner.

Skills demonstrated

Knowledge transfer theory and user needs; negotiation; collaboration; quality control; writing and plain language; creativity; basic knowledge of intellectual property law.



PrioNet Canada is a former university-based research network investigating prion and prion-like diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalitis (mad cow disease), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.




PrioNet encouraged its scientific members to think like entrepreneurs and to leave a legacy of research results that may become commercially useful. To do this successfully, they must be aware of the issues surrounding the protection and commercialization of ideas.


Lawyers at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) has written a series of articles to introduce network scientists to intellectual property (IP), especially to issues relating to the life sciences, pharmaceutical products and medical devices.



    • Promote knowledge translation and transfer in this area by creating the first known text of its kind for Canadian scientists;
    • Encourage network scientists to familiarize themselves with IP by providing a positive learning experience;
  • Produce an appealing, easy to navigate and understand booklet.



  • The original text was written by five lawyers, and reflected the disorder that usually accompanies unedited collaborative writing.
  • Legal terminology and procedure are inherently unsuited to lively prose.


  • Assessed barriers to the use of the handbook: redundancy, wordiness, unhelpful format, dense language and sentence structure;
        • Reduced the word-count by one-third (mostly by eliminating redundancies) to make the text less formidable;
          • Grouped topics into a Q&A format (the questions also formed the Table of Contents) to help readers scan for information.
            • Ordered the content chronologically from the idea through to the patent and licence.
              • Performed a deep structural and stylistic edit that raised 44 content queries for the corresponding author.
                • Researched and introduced pleasing elements, such as sidebars, quotes, stats and facts.

                  Impact / Benefit

                  • Praise from the collaborating partner at BLG: “I have never seen boring legal text undergo such a transformation.
                  • Demand for accessible information addressed: 1,000 copies distributed to PrioNet scientists, students and Board of Directors.