A Global Movement for Engaged Research

It’s one thing to know how research is used in policy and practice—to understand the conditions that enable thoughtful deliberation and sense-making of the evidence and the infrastructure that supports those conditions. It’s another thing altogether to create those conditions and the supporting infrastructure so that research routinely serves the public interest.

I recently took a look back at the work the Foundation has supported on the use of research evidence. One key lesson is about how funders can support field-building when we learn from grantees and other experts. Having built a body of evidence on the conditions that shape research use, for instance, we can call for a new generation of studies examining strategies to create those conditions for research use. Having learned from research-practice partnerships about the university barriers they face and the good they can do when those barriers are diminished, we can design a program that seeks to reshape academic incentives and norms to value partnered research. And having found like-minded colleagues at other funding organizations—each of whom took their own path to similar conclusions about the use of research and the powerful role of partnered research—we can now unite toward the common purpose of changing how research is produced and used for the public good. Together, we can leverage our collective experience to advance effective grantmaking practices, build evidence on evidence use, and promote bold change in the global research enterprise.

In a new special issue of Issues in Science and Technology focused on the future of science policy, Angela Bednarek (The Pew Charitable Trusts) and I describe the formation of the Transforming Evidence Funders Network, a group of “donors, public funders, and foundations that share the aim of expanding an approach to scientific research that is inclusive of and relevant to the rest of society.” We believe that, through collective effort, organizations that support research can build the evidence, infrastructure, and incentives necessary to make radical changes in the ways research is produced and used across the globe in a range of policy areas and practice sectors. Together, we can leverage what we’ve learned in order to make positive change. We hope you’ll join us.


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