2012 Conference Presentation
Much attention in the social care policy and practice arena has recently been given to understanding the role of research evidence in policy making. With the substantial resources invested in the production of research evidence it is vital to maximise the use of that knowledge in developing social care policy. The aim of this study was to examine current thinking among the social care research community about the use of research evidence in social care policy and practice.
The information presented here was based on the open-ended interviews with social care researchers and policy makers. All respondents held senior research posts in their research units or departments at different academic institutions across England. The interview guide included questions about the concept of knowledge transfer, challenges and opportunities in transferring research evidence, and their views about the future directions of knowledge transfer in social care. In addition, we interviewed a group of professionals from the policy community about their views regarding the knowledge transfer in social care policy making.
The key messages from the interviews indicate that the concept of knowledge transfer in social care is still very much unexplored and it is perhaps not the most suitable term to describe the process of creating and using knowledge. Overall, the term knowledge transfer was seen as being quite narrow since it does not fully capture the complexity of the social context in which policy decisions are made. The study findings confirmed the importance of the institutional and political context for policy making which provide a social framework within which policy decisions are made and research questions formulated. The respondents also recognised a distinct nature of knowledge transfer in social care compared to other social policy disciplines. Being able to translate the research findings into relevant implications for policy and practice is still a great challenge for academics.
The paper concludes that that there should be a greater emphasis on developing incentives for social care researcher to engage more actively in knowledge transfer. Other recommendations include recognising a lack of research evidence in social care field as one of the main challenges in knowledge transfer; developing better understanding of the whole process of policy making; and investing more in social care research in order to improve evidence base.