Vivian Tseng shares lessons she and colleagues have learned about ways to connect research, policy, and practice—and, ultimately, to forge common ground. This essay discusses the importance of creating conditions for the productive integration of evidence, paving two-way streets for learning, and building relationships and trust.
In this essay, Vivian Tseng and the William T. Grant Foundation senior program team describe the Foundation's interest in generating studies that focus on understanding the use of research evidence in policy and practice affecting youth and how to improve its use. The authors begin by defining what the Foundation means by research evidence and use of research evidence, acknowledging that research evidence is only one of several forms of evidence important to policymakers and practitioners. Tseng and colleagues then discuss reasons for studying the use of research evidence, and offer some early thoughts about fertile ground for future studies.
Vivian Tseng discusses the Foundation's learning community of research-practice partnerships, writing, "Successful partnerships enable researchers to develop stronger knowledge of practitioners’ challenges, their contexts, and the opportunities and limitations for using research. And they allow practitioners to develop greater trust of the research and deeper investment in its production and use."
The prevailing research-to-practice model suggests a one-way street of moving research to practice. To strengthen research-practice connections, however, we need to build a two-way street with reciprocal exchanges.
This paper presents a conceptual framework for understanding the uses of research in policy and practice, findings from recent empirical work, and early lessons from the field. The framework describes the ways policymakers and practitioners define, acquire, interpret, and ultimately use research.