Turning Research Into Action

Turning Research Into Action

In the recent Chronicle of Higher Education article “Scholars Wrestle with Challenges of Engaging with Policy Makers,” author Beth McMurtrie reports on a conference held at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. McMurtrie begins the article by asking, “What does it mean to do policy-relevant research?”

In Rhode Island, the Collaborative has created an innovative response to that question—Research Into Action. The Collaborative is built around the concept that it is possible to connect policy makers and academics in a way that enables them to work together to address critical issues.

On May 5, 2014, we brought together members of our community, state leaders, and scholars in an event that not only celebrated the completion of our first year of research, but that also provided an important opportunity to see how the work of the Collaborative can make an impact in a real way. The research that scholars work on as part of the Collaborative serves as a data-driven response to the concerns of policy leaders in our state, and we work to make this research accessible so that it can be readily utilized.

At the Collaborative, we ask our own questions to guide our work with policy leaders and scholars. One question we strive to answer every day is: How do we take our research and make it actionable? We know that it is not enough to just provide research; it is also necessary to communicate research in a clear and understandable way to a mainstream audience. The Collaborative is a connection point between policy questions, scholars, and the community that utilizes one of Rhode Island’s richest attributes—academic expertise.

We are working to use all the available tools to reach beyond our higher education institutions and impact real world challenges. Is it possible to retain the rigor of academic research and also provide evidence and data that can be applied to the topical challenges our state is facing? We think so, and one of the ways this is happening is through the Collaborative.

Amber Caulkins, Program Director for the Collaborative