Making research relevant
However interesting the research, if it isn’t relevant to local issues it won’t be used. Even if it is relevant, Local Authority staff must be able to see how they can apply the research findings:
‘Relevance is everything’
‘Sometimes you look at the research and go "so what?" How does that actually help me as a commissioner or a provider to know what to deliver?’
How to make research relevant and applicable
- Address local priorities Children’s Services staff focus on delivering and improving services for children in their Local Authority. Research that can help them deal with issues or challenges that they face is most likely to have impact. Research addressing general issues of relevance rather than specific local priorities is less likely to be used. Case study 3
- Fits national policy objectives Local Authorities respond to a direction laid out in national policy. If research does not relate to this there is unlikely to be the budget or urgency to do anything with it.
- Makes clear recommendations for practice
Researchers need to provide clear, authoritative and evidence-based recommendations or solutions to problems. Our interviewees stressed that these need to be achievable within the constraints of policy directives and budgets.
The research has to be set in reality. Research can not come up with Rolls Royce models of intervention as we don’t have the money to do Rolls Royce interventions!’
- Applicable to different contexts
Users of research will often want research findings to be applicable to their local context. This is easier when data collection is carried out in the authority using the research, or in a similar authority. Where this is not the case, our interviewees wanted flexibility in the recommendations to enable ideas to be adapted to different contexts.