Questions / Using Research

What other factors shape the use of research evidence?

Partnerships should be sensitive to the effects of timing, funding priorities, and political circumstances on potential research use:

  • Implementation timelines may constrain the extent to which evidence can be used by decision makers.
  • Unpredictable shifts in an agency’s funding priorities may affect the feasibility of research use. Under these shifts, agencies may lack the funding to act even when strong evidence exists, or they may have funding to support work in a given area “right now” regardless of the evidence available to them.
  • The allocation of resources can affect the partnership’s work and the use of research evidence. Considerations include the organization’s fiscal priorities, competing demands on the organization’s resources, or the amount of political capital that is required to implement a change effort internally.
  • Political circumstances matter. When politics raise the profile of research, partners should be ready with concise messages about key research findings. Other times, partners should develop strategies to involve influential individuals or groups to facilitate policymakers’ access to research evidence. Despite the best efforts, political circumstances can often outweigh the consideration and use of research evidence.

For an example of how research evidence can inform policy implementation decisions, see: Partnership and the Politics of Care: Advocates’ Role in Passing and Implementing California’s Law to Extend Foster Care.

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Using Research