Starting a research-practice partnership may seem overwhelming at first, especially for those who have not partnered outside of their respective agencies. Below we provide some key tasks to consider:

(1) Initiate contact with the party you are interested in partnering with.

(2) Establish channels of communication and expectations early on. Who will be responsible for what? How often should you check-in? Is there a mutually developed vision?

(3)  Start looking for funding. While some partnerships may be able to start out small and build a foundation without financial support, in the long run, the health of the partnership will likely suffer without it. Additionally, some funding opportunities may require particular infrastructure to be in place prior to being considered for an award. For this reason, it’s best to check these rules before diving too deep into data agreements, research agendas, and so forth.

(4) Get back together with your partners to start negotiating the research agenda. What questions will the partnership focus on? What time frames are appropriate? What are the deliverables? What research methodologies will be utilized?

(5) Look into what types of data agreements, MOUs, charters, etc. make the most sense for your RPP, given item (4).

(6) From here, the basic structures are in place. Going forward, the partnership may then proceed in an infinite number of ways, depending on the arrangement, the focus of the research, the student population, etc.


“How Do You Start, Maintain, and Sustain a Research-Practice Partnership?”

Author: Kristen Davidson

Year: 2015

This post by Kristen Davidson on the NCRPP blog outlines some insights about findings partners, getting a partnership started, and collaborating effectively.

“Addressing the Challenges of Building and Maintaining Effective Research Partnerships”

Authors: Rhonda Barton, Kari Nelsestuen, and Christopher Mazzeo

Year: 2014

In this brief written for an issue of Lessons Learned, a series published by Education Northwest, Barton, Nelsestuen, and Mazzeo share initial lessons based on partnership experience about building and maintaining effective research-practice partnerships.

“How to Negotiate the Collaborative Focus of a Research-Practice Partnership”

Authors: Philip Bell and Abby Rhinehart

Year: 2015

Provided by the Research + Practice Collaboratory, this case study of a DBIR partnership explores the ways in which partners identify and negotiate a shared focus.


“Talking Points for Different Audiences About Potential of RPPs”

Authors: Bill Penuel and Dan Gallagher

These talking points on the value and potential of research-practice partnerships are tailored towards different stakeholder groups and can be used to help create a pitch.

Sample Documents

Executive Charters

“BERC Executive Committee Charter”

Year: 2013

This is an example of an Executive Committee Charter. This document outlines the Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC) statement of purpose, its role, and rules governing Executive Committee membership, and operating principles.


“UChicago Consortium on School Research Charter”

Years: 2000-2011

This document outlines the mission and governance of the UChicago Consortium on School Research


“Strategic Education Research Partnership Memorandum of Understanding”

Year: 2011

This is an example of a MOU from the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP)



“Sample MOU”

Provided by the Research + Practice Collaboratory, this is a sample MOU outlining what should be included.




“Consortium on Chicago School Research Master Agreement for Research Services Template”

Year: 2013

This is an example of a MOU. 



“Baltimore Education Research Consortium Memorandum of Understanding”

Year: 2013

This is an example of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), outlining specific agreements about governance, member responsibilities, communication, publication, and ownership. 


“Webinar: Getting a Partnership Started”

Year: 2015

In this webinar by the Research + Practice Collaboratory, a panel of researchers and educators discusses how new partnerships get off the ground.

“Webinar: Negotiating Roles in Partnerships”

Year: 2015

In this webinar by the Research + Practice Collaboratory, a panel of researchers and educators discusses how partners negotiate roles and responsibilities in a partnership.

“Webinar: Defining the Focus of Partnership Work”

Year: 2015

This webinar by the Research + Practice Collaboratory discusses how partners decide on and develop an ongoing productive focus of work.