Optimization of the RPC Model: Enhancing Effectiveness and Equity in Improving the Use of Research

Can the Research-to-Policy Collaboration model be improved to reduce inequities for scholars of color in accessing policymakers, improve the timeliness of research to policymakers, and improve cost-effectiveness?

The Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC) intervention is a highly-structured and intensive model of collaboration between researchers and policymakers. A previous randomized controlled trial of the RPC demonstrated the model’s efficacy to improve researchers’ policy engagement, build collaborations between researchers and congressional offices, and increase use of research in child and family legislation. The study also indicated several ways the model could be improved. First, recognizing the racial inequities in opportunities for scholars of color to influence policy, the team now seeks to improve the supports that RPC provides for them. Second, the model is relatively expensive to implement for the organizations likely to do so. In this three-part study, Crowley and colleagues will optimize the intervention to empower scholars of color and reduce costs while maintaining impacts. In Study 1 the team will use individual and focus group interviews pre- and post-implementation of the RPC with scholars of color to learn about their perceptions of the barriers, benefits, and risks of policy engagement. Study 2 will use design thinking methodology and rapid-cycle experimentation to test small changes to a digital platform to improve research-policy communication and the timeliness of researcher responses to policy needs. Finally, for Study 3, the team will conduct a comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial comparing the current RPC to the enhanced RPC model, incorporating results from the first two studies. Study 3 will assess changes in researcher empowerment, the ability of the revised RPC model to cultivate settings that support equivalent influence on policymakers for scholars of color and White scholars, and congressional offices’ use of research evidence. Study 3 will also include a cost effectiveness study to examine the average and marginal costs to respond to a congressional request.