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Integrating research for policy and practice (2015-20)

Home research Integrating research for policy and practice (2015-20)

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.

Research objectives

The objectives were to demonstrate how we can assess and improve the quality of:

  1. integration between scientists across FR and its research partners, by encouraging collaboration and interdisciplinarity where appropriate,
  2. knowledge exchange between the research community and external stakeholders through targeted engagement at appropriate stages in the research process, and
  3. research impact, i.e. changes in attitudes and behaviour that help realise the full range of benefits provided by trees, woods and forests into the future.

Findings and Recommendations

The programme addressed these objectives through four inter-linked activities:

  • Investigations to improve practical and theoretical understanding of how to evaluate and enhance research integration and knowledge exchange, and of the diverse contexts within which scientific evidence can potentially support decision-making.
  • Profiling, monitoring and evaluation of the status of research integration and knowledge exchange across FR and its research partners, the Forestry Commission and the wider land-use sector. This helped us understand the factors influencing research impact.
  • A series of workshops and seminars to facilitate dialogue, collaboration and learning among Forest Research scientists, and between researchers and targeted groups of policymakers, practitioners and knowledge intermediaries across the land-use sectors.
  • Case studies to understand and enhance the effectiveness of Forest Research’s response to specific research challenges identified in the current Science and Innovation Strategy.

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

Our Involvement

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.


Integrating research for policy and practice (2015-20)
In this section
Integrating research for policy and practice (2015-20)
Research Status
Research Impact Coordinator
Forestry Staff David Edwards.2e16d0ba.fill 600x600 1
Funding & partners
  • The programme was funded by Corporate and Forestry Support (CFS) of the Forestry Commission (CFS Programme 7: Integrating research for policy and practice).

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