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Research—it’s a community resource

10 September 2015

How we think about research matters. Is it a publication, a presentation—or a community resource?
Increasingly, there is awareness of the value of research as a community resource. It is fuelled by understanding the contribution to society from applied research that is informed by research users—be they policy advisors, practitioners, managers or consumers. The message is clear: research is only one part of the answer for complex societal issues.

Changes in how we think about, let alone fund research, can transform its ability to deliver a return on investment. A knowledge exchange (KE) perspective sees value in researchers and research users ‘pulling together’, to make a difference to policy, practice or future research. Even subtle changes in language can make a difference. The frequently used expression ‘end user’ can imply a passive recipient of completed research. By contrast, the KE emphasis on ‘research user’ reflects engagement and collaboration. A KE mindset takes a systems view that values real-world engagement with research users.

Yet how well are researchers, and research users trained or supported to operate with a KE mindset? How can they develop skills and build capacity?

A KERTI meeting was part of the programme at the recent PHC Research Conference in Adelaide. Professor Karen Reynolds, Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, at Flinders University gave an inspiring presentation on effective collaboration between researchers and industry. Insights from research users were shared by panellists: Michael Cousins (Chief Executive, Health Consumers Alliance of SA); Janet Quigley (Assistant Secretary, Taskforces Branch, Health Systems Policy, Australian Government Department of Health); John Furler (Principal Research Fellow, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne and GP at North Richmond Community Health Centre).

The next KERTI meeting will be held in Sydney on 27 October, as part of the 4th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation. Participants will engage in a scenario in which they advise their hypothetical Department Head about improving their KE strategies. Group feedback will consider how the KERTI network can foster a spirit of joint enterprise.

Hope to see you there…

 

This news item was featured in This Week in PHC Issue: 10 September 2015.

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