To the extent that trusting relationships are the bedrock of research-practice partnerships, the staff who constitute the partner teams are pivotal to a partnership’s success. Whether on the research or practice side, partnership staff must have an aptitude for and strong inclination toward collaboration and communication.
Partners need the ability to negotiate and articulate problems of practice, tailor communications to distinct audiences, and adapt to changing circumstances. Beyond these essential qualities, RPP staff need to be able to manage, conduct, and communicate research that is relationship-dependent and contextualized to local needs. Technical and analytical skills, that is, are often as important as an ability to share ownership and remain flexible.
A growing number of graduate programs across professional fields offer or require training in research-practice partnerships. These programs provide content about the dispositions, knowledge, and skills needed to engage in collaborative research, as well as hands-on experience through apprenticeships, internships, and other practicum experiences. Emphasis on the ethical considerations involved in research-practice partnerships is an important component of such training opportunities.
In education, the National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships, which describes itself as “a professional learning community among education research-practice partnerships,” provides a space where education RPP partners can connect with one another and deepen their knowledge and skills for engaging in RPP work. Through RPP development workshops, annual conferences, and a database of online resources, researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers interested in improving educational outcomes for young people through RPPs can learn skills and strategies for forming and sustaining successful partnerships.