On the 24-25th September, a group of academics, practitioners, policymakers and funders met together at the Nuffield Foundation to talk about how to transform research into the use of research evidence. Our feeling was that the community of researchers working in this area had become somewhat siloed, and that more cross-disciplinary conversations were needed to help push the field forward.
We started with a half-hour from Professor Huw Davies, in which he described how the debates had evolved over the last 20 years, looking back and and looking forward to new challenges.
Kathryn and Annette then presented data from their preliminary survey of the community of scholars, and asking participants to identify key knowledge gaps and research questions. These were summarised on slido.com as a set of prioritised research questions.
Theme 1: Research for society
Our first substantive session focused on how research can be, is, or should be directed to attend to the needs of policymakers, researchers, and different publics. We had three presentations, from Nick Mays, Jude Fransman and Sarah Hartley debating how the research evidence which reaches policymakers and practitioners can be made more relevant, democratic, and inclusive; who gets considered an expert and why? Who gets to participate in research and why?
Theme 2: Supporting research into evidence, policy and practice
Our second session focused on the funder perspective. We heard from Jennifer Rubin (ESRC Executive Chair), Ian Viney (Director of Evaluation, MRC), Jonathan Best (Wellcome Trust), Vivian Tseng (William T Grant Foundation) and James Wilsdon (University of Sheffield). Discussion focused on how research into EPP is commissioned, funded and managed by UKRI, the RCs, the gov and NGOs. How can we improve cross-fertilisation and more joined-up strategic thinking?
Navigating hybrid careers
The second day started with a peer-support breakfast session facilitated by Vicky Ward from the Research Use for Research Utilisation (RURU) collaboration. They crowd-sourced tips on where to publish and how to network
Theme 3: Measuring, theorising and unpacking ‘use’
Our third substantive discussion was about determining the technical and theoretical challenge around use, with presentations from Brian Head, Nancy Cartwright, and Justin Parkhurst. There are so many frameworks, but we keep getting stuck on defending methodological pluralism or remain embedded in the case study. How can we better measure and theorise research use?