Conducting high-quality research is important but it's also important to make that research accessible and relevant to those who can use it. Research translation is about bridging the gap between knowledge and action.
How to effectively translate research
The most effective way of translating research is to consider translation from the outset. This means focusing on what the research means for policy and practice, and engaging with practitioners throughout the project.
Key questions that every researcher should ask of their project are below.
- Who might be able to use the research and for what purpose?
- How can they be engaged throughout the project to provide guidance and feedback, and/or trial innovations?
- How can the findings of the research be communicated broadly, in an engaging way, to those who might use it?
- What kind of outputs and artefacts will best translate the research into action?
- How can the impact and usefulness of the research be measured?
Examples of specific research translation outputs and artefacts include:
- research reports, articles and other publications
- classroom materials
- professional development activities, toolkits, courses or materials
- videos and podcasts
- brochures, handouts and flyers
end-user engagement plan will help guide the engagement process throughout the research project.
An example of research that engages end-users in practical ways can be seen in the 'Lab to Life' scholar visits run by the Autism Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). These visits are arranged so that scholars who graduate with Autism CRC funding or complete fellowships with the CRC are well-rounded scientists and well informed regarding the:
- range of professionals who work in teams to support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families
- type of challenges faced by individuals on the spectrum and their families across the lifespan
- opportunities to meaningfully engage with individuals on the spectrum and their families.
To this end, scholars spend time (3 visits of 1–3 days each) with professionals (paediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, regular and special education teachers, social workers etc.) who work with individuals with ASD and their families. These visits occur in different research settings from biological, neuroscience or genetics laboratories to school classrooms, family environments, workplaces and the community. The aim of these visits is, among other things, to:
- develop an appreciation of the impact of ASD on individuals and their families
- develop an ability to discuss research and clinical aspects of ASD with different professionals who hold different perspectives and specific expertise related to the ASD spectrum
- be able to communicate with individuals with ASD and their families about their lived experiences as well as various research projects.
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