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One of our core-funded programmes between 2015 and 2020, ‘Integrating research for policy and practice’ (CFS Programme 7), sought to improve our understanding of the impacts of Forest Research’s evidence and advice beyond the research community, especially within policy and practice, how this has been achieved, and how it can be enhanced, particularly through improved dialogue and collaboration.
The objectives were to demonstrate how we can assess and improve the quality of:
The programme addressed these objectives through four inter-linked activities:
Working with a consultant, Dr Laura Meagher, we developed and tested an evaluation framework that: a) incorporates lessons from experiences in academia, b) makes sense for an applied agency that already has a considerable impact on policy and practice, but could benefit from further outreach and communicating successes, and c) supports the culture of collaboration and learning which we value and wish to encourage in Forest Research.
We refined and tested the framework through a dozen case studies: the first phase was a self-evaluation by our own researchers (the report was submitted to the External Review Group in November 2017); the second phase involved eliciting feedback through interviews with stakeholders, plus subsequent analysis and dialogue, to generate a rounded picture of impacts and their causes to understand and communicate successes and identify how these can be enhanced.
We also ran several workshops to explore issues around knowledge exchange, interdisciplinarity and research impact. These had three goals: a) to develop a suitable format for a bespoke training session that could be rolled out if required, b) to further refine and test the framework and supporting materials, c) to explore options for embedding these into the business processes of Forest Research and the wider sector.
By 2020 we had developed clear proposals to implement this agenda, and in 2021 a Research Impact Coordinator was recruited to lead this work and develop and implement a Knowledge Exchange and Impact Strategy.
For further information, contact Dr David Edwards
The programme is led by the Social and Economic Research Group (SERG) at Forest Research, who are collaborating with researchers across the agency and other forestry-sector stakeholders.
This page summarises the findings of a Forest Research study to assess the level of uptake of decision support systems within the UK forestry and land use sectors.