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Secondments open door to enhanced knowledge translation

Making better use of evidence in policymaking is a preoccupation of many in the public service and of many researchers. Although it is well understood that good policy and effective programs should be guided by evidence, this is not always a simple task. For those of us in academia, ‘evidence’ is defined as the findings from our research (i.e. our results). Researchers believe (and sometimes rightly so) that their evidence is important, that it can improve the way we live, and they want to tell people about it so that they can use it to guide policy or program decisions. Policy makers have their own drivers, pressures and priorities and, as we know, evidence from research is only part of the picture.

There are a lot of things that can get in the way of translating what is known into practice, but one of the barriers most often cited is the relationship — or lack thereof — between researchers and policymakers. We researchers operate in an entirely different world to policymakers ‒ from the work we do, how we write, evaluate and analyse, and how we get paid. It sometimes feels like researchers and policymakers are not speaking the same language; that researchers are from Mars and policymakers are from Venus. In our research paper published this week we explore the potential of secondments between government and university departments as one way of overcoming these barriers between research and policy.

Read the full story on The Mandarin