The Research Utilisation Project

Facilitating research informed policy and practice


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Content type
Policy and practice paper

December 2007


Prue Holzer, Kerry Lewig, Fiona Arney, Leah Bromfield

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To what extent does research inform policy and practice developments in the human services? The purpose of the Research Utilisation Project was to explore the degree of research use by Australian professionals in the child and family welfare sector and in particular, ways in which use of research could be encouraged in the child protection sector.

An initial survey of subscribers to National Child Protection Clearinghouse publications, and a follow up telephone interview with 59 of those respondents, investigated how often they accessed and applied research.

The telephone interview participants were asked to provide qualitative descriptions of how they had accessed and applied research in their current role and to discuss barriers and facilitators to research use that they had experienced in their current workplace. The survey results indicate that most prevalent facilitator of research use is the capacity to see the relevance of the research to practice and policy making. The most prevalent reported barrier to research use was the need to consider other sources of information such as public opinion, interest groups, and the media, suggesting that research is viewed as one of many voices competing for the attention of practitioners, policy makers, and other professionals in the child and family welfare sector. When the dominant purveyor of information is other than research, it is likely to act as a barrier to research use.

Please note:  This paper draws substantially from the Research Use in Australian Child and Family Welfare project, funded by the Australian Centre for Child Protection and undertaken in collaboration by the Centre and the National Child Protection Clearinghouse.


The Research Utilisation Project: Facilitating Research Rnformed Policy and Practice is available in PDF format only.