To address this gap, the current examination summarizes and analyzes existing theoretical and non-theoretical approaches applied this topic. The current analysis addresses this issue with the goal to develop a unifying conceptual framework and terminology.
Methods: The current study utilizes thematic review methodology to summarize and analyze existing approaches examining the translation of research evidence to policymakers. Specific attention was paid to empirical evidence examining the process to “getting” research to policymakers.
Findings: A thematic review of research finds a singular theoretical approach and several non-theoretical frameworks for understanding the process of “getting” research to policymakers. The Diffusion of Innovation Theory, Knowledge Translation, and the Two Communities Metaphor provide the foundation for existing research in this area. However, each theory or framework provides limited guidance to the overarching process of “getting” research to policymakers.
The use of Diffusion of Innovation Theory, Knowledge Translation, and the Two Communities Metaphor, in addition to the Longest Policymaking Model, set the foundation for the development of a preliminary conceptual model. This model suggests a shared environment among policymakers and researchers and linear yet interacting processes for developing policy and research.
Further, inconsistent terminology throughout these conceptualizations creates confusion and imprecision of language. The new terminology, Translation Research and Utilization (TRU) encompasses a spectrum of approaches to “getting” research to policymakers.
Conclusion and Implications:Little information is known about effective strategies to get research evidence to policymakers. Social work researchers often state research evidence should be used to develop or improve policy. This thematic analysis and summary seeks to explore theoretical and non-theoretical approaches to understand the process of “getting” research to policymakers or translation research and utilization. It further uses Diffusion of Innovation Theory, Knowledge Translation, and the Two Communities Metaphor to develop a preliminary conceptual model and new terminology for this area. The results of the current analysis provide a conceptual framework and terminology as a foundation for future work.
Future research should seek to develop the preliminary conceptual model by conducting a systematic review of the literature. A systematic review will provide the opportunity to further develop the conceptual model and lay the foundation for the development of theory. The current thematic analysis and summary provides a foundation for theory development and empirical inquiry by building on the importance to translation research and utilization.