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Linking Research to Practice

Olivier Serrat

The views expressed in this presentation are the views of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank, or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this presentation and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this presentation do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology.

Describing Research and Research Institutions

Research is about both generation and dissemination of findings: they share equal importance.
Research agendas often do not match the profiles of intended users. Research institutions rarely allocate sufficient resources to link research to practice. Research findings still do not adequately inform practice.
The value of any knowledge product hangs on its effective dissemination. Without outreach, the efforts of knowledge workers are wasted. Dissemination is a core responsibility of research institutions. Performance hinges on ability to effectively disseminate research findings to targeted audiences.

Disseminating Research Findings

Dissemination is The delivery and receipt of a message. The engagement of one or more individuals in the effort. The transfer of a product or process.
Successful dissemination Must be planned before the onset of the research agenda. Should elicit a response from targeted audienceshow will they use the findings? Must be formulated in light of the distinct stages of awareness, understanding, and action.

Effective dissemination is constrained by Poor planning. The absence of a dissemination policy, strategy, plan, and tactics.

Disseminating Research Findings

Key Steps 1. Adopt a strategic approach to dissemination. 2. Know the target audience. 3. Formulate generic, viable dissemination strategies that can be modified according to the primary purpose of the research. 4. Monitor and evaluate accomplishments.


Dissemination and Use of Knowledge




Disseminating Research Findings

Key Questions 1. What do we want to disseminate? Effective dissemination hangs on having a shared vision and common understanding of what one wishes to disseminate.
2. What is the target audience? What are we offering it? Identify the target audience and map for awareness, understanding, and action. Successful dissemination strategies actively engage a target audience and deliver what it needs. Examine the knowledge product and present it as a benefit and solution to the target audiences.

Disseminating Research Findings

3. When do we disseminate? Make the dissemination plan realistic. Identify and set the milestones of the dissemination plan. 4. What are the most effective ways of disseminating? Explore and evaluate what methods meet the needs of the target audience most effectively and appropriately. Vary the methods to increase the chances of success.
5. Who might facilitate dissemination? Work through existing channels to have a greater chance of success. Collaborate with others to improve the impact of dissemination and reduce costs.

Disseminating Research Findings

6. How do we prepare dissemination strategies? Strategy covers Dissemination The knowledge products for dissemination Target audiences The benefits to users Dissemination methods and related activities Timescale and responsibilities Targets Costs Monitoring and evaluation and criteria for success

Disseminating Research Findings

7. How do we turn our strategy into a dissemination plan? Clearly set the objective, target audience, methods, timing, and responsibilities.
8. How do we cost our dissemination activities? Estimate individual costs for dissemination activities. 9. How will we know if we have been successful? A dissemination strategy will only be effective if it is viewed as an evolving process. Establish clear targets at the onset by linking them to the three broad purposes of disseminationawareness, understanding, and action.

Knowledge Sharing and Learning

Developing a Dissemination Policy

A research agenda requires A dissemination policy A dissemination strategy A dissemination plan Dissemination tactics A dissemination policy Establishes the research institutions vision and values, and measures these to engage. Explains how efforts at disseminating research results link to their utilization. Ties research to practice through dissemination strategies, dissemination plans, and the application of dissemination tactics.

Developing a Dissemination Strategy

A dissemination strategy is about The overall effect a research institution wishes to create. How a research institution addresses particular issues to ensure that dissemination of research results leads to their utilization.
Key Considerations 1. Users Is the readiness of the users to change limited? Are there needs for widely divergent formats and levels of information content? Is the number of trusted information sources limited?

Developing a Dissemination Strategy

2. Source Is the credibility of a research institutions experience limited? Is the level of perceived competence low? Is the motive suspect?
3. Medium Is the information content clear and attractive? Are the dissemination methods flexible and reliable? Are the dissemination methods cost-effective? Are the timeframes required to access the information content lengthy?

Developing a Dissemination Strategy

4. Information Content Is confidence in the quality of research and its methodology low? Is the utility and relevance of the information content unclear? Is the credibility of outcomes limited? Is the format of the information content user-friendly? Are there cost implications to access to information content?
5. Context Are there competing research findings? Do the general climate or circumstances favor adoption of the research findings? Can the research findings find practical application?

Developing a Dissemination Plan

A dissemination plan outlines basic elements that must be implemented. Dissemination should produce a response, viz., utilization of the research findings, on the part of the users. Key Elements 1. Impact and Outcome What is the desired impact of dissemination? What outcome does the dissemination plan aim to accomplish? In what ways will users benefit? 2. Users Which users will be most affected by the research? Which users will be most interested in learning? What are their scope and characteristics?

Developing a Dissemination Plan

3. Information Content Does the information content match the users expected information needs? Is the information content reviewed through a quality control mechanism to ensure accuracy and relevance? Does the comprehension level required to understand the information content match the characteristics of the users?
4. Medium What resources does each group typically access? What capabilities does each group have? What are the most effective dissemination methods to reach each user group?

Developing a Dissemination Plan

5. Execution When should each aspect of the dissemination plan occur? Who should be responsible for specific dissemination activities?
6. Obstacles What potential obstacles may slow access to or utilization of the research findings by each user group? What actions could be developed to overcome these obstacles? 7. Accomplishment How will accomplishment be described and measured? If data is to be gathered, who will gather it?

Developing a Dissemination Plan

An effective dissemination plan
1. Is oriented to the needs of users. 2. Relies on appropriate form, language, and information content levels. 3. Incorporates various dissemination methods (i.e., written, graphical, electronic, and verbal media) to include both active and reactive communication channels. 4. Draws on existing (and planned) resources, relationships, and networks.

5. Establishes linkages to the resources required to implement the information content (e.g., technical assistance).

Applying Dissemination Tactics


The Research Report


Dissemination Tactics

Desk Launch Press Conference


Professional Conference Verbal Feedback to Contributors Verbal Briefings

Dissemination Magazine Verbal Feedback

Journal, Magazine

Press Release

Consortium and Network

Meetings First Qualification

Referencing Material Website Database CD-ROM Basic Dissemination Tactics

Integration into Training

Post-Qualifying Courses Other Courses

Advanced Dissemination Tactics

Source: Adapted from Barnardos. 2000. What Works? Making Connections: Linking Research to Practice.

Posting Research Online

The internet Is now a primary vehicle for disseminating research findings. Makes it possible for all researchers to promote research online so that it may be invoked by peers, educators, students, journalists, customers for research expertise, and the general public.

Advantages of Disseminating Research Findings Online 1. Outlay Once material is online, hundreds of thousands of people can access it at no cost to the research institution.

2. Speed and Flexibility

The internet is very fast compared to print media, and enables hypertext-specific and interactive actions. Posting online takes minutes: this facilitates opportune and fresh updates.

Posting Research Online

3. Synergies Posting research online enhances and sponsors other dissemination methods. Posting research online can entice users to draw on other research work. 4. Audiences The internet exposes work to new audiences. More people can find and access materials that are available online as well as in print. 5. Monitoring and Evaluation Web pages, nowadays, invite feedback and therefore facilitate online impact assessment.

Posting Research Online

6. Fund-raising
Internet publication is a common requirement of research donors. Dissemination raises the profile and enhance the capacity of a research institution. Donors are likely to be attracted to research institutions that are committed to disseminating research to users.

Communicating Online
Successful online communications actively encourage users to read and absorb material.

Operating Principles 1. Reading Online Users are impatient. Users make on-the-spot judgments about the value of the knowledge and information presented. 2. Disseminating Successfully Online Websites must be scannable. Users do not read but scan websites. Websites must be concise. Users do not scroll. Websites must be objective. Users do not like selfserving publicity.

Communicating Online
Posting Research in a Web-Friendly Way
1. Help users find research Display prominent links to website materials.

Advertise research through short yet informative descriptions.

Make the work searchable by using page and section headings, page descriptions, and meta tags. Undertake e-marketing to inform users that research findings are available on the internet.

Communicating Online
2. Organize links to documents
Think outside the box. Categorize materials by type (e.g., working paper, discussion paper, etc.) and provide a menu for direct access. Specify if the document is downloadable. Develop a customized search engine if numerous documents are hosted on the website. 3. Select a digital format Make the documents available in a format that can be easily opened and printed. Avoid zipping or splitting online documents.

Some Dissemination Methods

Real-Life Examples

Real-Life Examples

Real-Life Examples

Real-Life Examples

Further Reading
ADB. 2008. Posting Research Online. Available: ADB. 2008. Using Plain English. Available:

ADB. 2009. Conducting Effective Presentations. Available: ADB. 2009. Disseminating Knowledge Products. Available: ADB. 2010. Showcasing Knowledge. Available:

Knowledge Management Center

Olivier Serrat
Principal Knowledge Management Specialist Knowledge Management Center Regional and Sustainable Development Department Asian Development Bank