Colorful picture of gears interlocking, some small, some medium, some big.September 2014
A legacy dissemination resource from NICHCY


According to NCDDR (the National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research), there are four elements of effective dissemination. We’ve just talked about the first element, involving your intended users. This resource page focuses on the second element, involving dissemination sources.

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The Meaning of “Dissemination Sources”

Let us clarify what we mean—or what NCDDR means!—by “dissemination sources.” The quote below will do just that. It’s from NCDDR’s 30-page guide called Developing an Effective Dissemination Plan.

Source(s): Identify the primary source or sources that each potential user group is already tied into or most respects as an information source. Consider ways to partner with these sources in your dissemination efforts. (2001, p. 9)

In other words, what NCDDR is suggesting as an effective element in your dissemination efforts is to partner with an organization or entity (or more than one) that your users trust and themselves use as an information source.

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Why Involve Others?

There are a number of reasons why it’s strategic to involve other dissemination sources in your dissemination efforts.

Research has shown that users are more likely to receive and use information that comes from a source they trust or see as credible. (Scullion, 2002; Southwest Regional Development Laboratory, 1996, 2001)

Hard-to-reach audiences are exactly that—-hard-to-reach. A source they already use to find reliable information knows just where to reach them, and how. And they’re receptive to messages from that source. They’ve listened in the past, have found the source trustworthy, and are more likely to be receptive to your message when it comes through this credible third party.

Partnering with a source viewed as credible by a user group you’d like to reach gives you a valuable assist, an immediate presumption of credibility of your own. Credibility by association, you might say. Someone trusted is vouching for your cause or your message.

Your dissemination source can help you tailor your message so that it resonates with recipients.

Your message is carried into the networks of others, not just via your own. You reach more people this way.

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Why Would Others Give You Such Access?

It’s asking a big favor: Will you help me get my message out to your network? Oh, and may I use your communication mechanisms (newsletter, website, mailing addresses)?

Why would another organization give you such access to a valued audience?

Mutual benefit, that’s why. You have something to offer that a prospective dissemination source considers helpful. Information. Expertise. Assistance you offer to their audience or to a mutual audience. A return favor, such as access to your network for initiatives of their own. Together, we can do so much…

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Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Dissemination Sources

NCDDR (2001) poses a series of questions under the header “dissemination planning through answered questions” (p. 10). Ask (and answer!) questions such as these as a way to guide your dissemination planning with respect to the dissemination sources you might involve.

  • Is your project/organization perceived by user groups as an active information dissemination resource?
  • Would collaborating with another project, organization, association, or institution for dissemination purposes, strengthen the credibility and receptivity of your information?
  • Do users regard your project staff as highly knowledgeable resources in the project’s topical area?
  • Is your project “partnering” in any way with nationally recognized associations, institutions of higher education, or other entities in the scientific community?
  • Is your project collaborating with any other organization(s) or association(s) in order to use their current information networks and vehicles reaching one or more of your targeted audiences? (2001, p. 11)

Think about it. Who do you partner with to extend the reach of your credibility and message? Who would you like to have as a dissemination source? What user groups do you find challenging to reach and serve? Who could give you a hand?

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Keep Reading about Dissemination

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