RESEARCH-PRACTICE PARTNERSHIPS: WORKING TOGETHER

NNERPP RPP KNOWLEDGE CLEARINGHOUSE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Below you’ll find answers and resources to the following 3 questions:

WHAT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES DOES A RESEARCH-PRACTICE PARTNERSHIP NEED?

Following the identification and selection of a partner, you might next consider turning your attention to a few key organizational items that will provide important infrastructure from which the partnership can launch.

What will the mission, vision, and objectives of the partnership be?

The answer to these questions may come after discussing the RPP’s theory of action between partners and may then be codified into the partnership’s charter. See our section on theories of action and sample documents for further information.

What foundational documents will we need to have in place?

The number and types of documents you will need to work through together will depend on the types of organizations that will be participating in the partnership as well as the nature and scope of work the partnership is interested in taking on. We recommend reading further on this in the Documents section of the Clearinghouse.

What type of staff will be needed to carry out the work? 

The number and type of staff needed for the RPP will vary depending on the structural arrangement, the scope of work, and the amount of funding available, among other things. See the Documents section of the Clearinghouse for several sample job descriptions for further information.

Additionally, some key issues to keep in mind:

  • Differences in culture and training often found amongst researchers and practitioners will require the partnership to consider communication styles, needs, and capacities early on. For example, academic researchers do not often receive explicit training in how to communicate with practitioners during their PhD programs and this skill must often be developed within the partnership.
  • How will the partnership utilize post-docs, grad students, and even undergrads? These groups of students are often eager to participate in partnership work, are willing to be trained, and can provide research support to the partnership in ways that may be complementary to the existing research team.
  • Will your partnership have sufficient funding to perhaps cover a staff member on the practitioner team? Having someone “on the inside” may help expedite data requests and can also enable the partnership to stay more engaged with practitioner activities.
  • At some point, depending on the size of the partnership, it may make sense to hire a communications person that will handle many of the outward-facing activities of the partnership. Keeping this in mind earlier rather than later can facilitate better planning.

RESOURCES | What organizational structures does a research-practice partnership need?

WHAT EDUCATION DOCTORATE STUDENTS LEARN FROM HANDS-ON RESEARCH COURSES

Kieran Bennett and Jessica Lorenz 2017

Post featured in NNERPP’s EdWeek blog, “Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice

HOW TO SUPPORT EDUCATION PRACTITIONER-SCHOLARS

Nicole Ralston and Jacqueline Waggoner, MCPER 2017

Post featured in NNERPP’s EdWeek blog, “Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice

HOW DO WE CO-DEVELOP A RESEARCH AGENDA?

Co-developing a mutually agreed upon research agenda that will guide the work of the partnership is one of the defining features of research-practice partnerships. By having the practitioner voice incorporated early on in the research process, RPPs can leverage first-hand knowledge of the most pressing problems of practice and use it to directly inform the research questions. This, in turn, can help facilitate the production of research that is more useful to practitioners. First time co-development of a research agenda may necessitate extra time from both sides, especially if researchers and practitioners are still working towards developing a shared language within which to discuss research.

Some additional guiding questions:

 

  • How many people should help develop the agenda? (Size matters. Too many voices, and the purpose of the meeting can easily get lost.)
  • Which roles or departments should be represented from the researcher or practitioner side?
  • How often is the research agenda revisited and/or updated?
  • Where do these conversations take place (i.e., at the research institution or the practitioner’s home base or somewhere neutral)?
  • Who needs to know what is on the research agenda? How will this be communicated to those stakeholders?
  • How long or short term is the research agenda? Are there projects that are appropriate for both timelines?

RESOURCES | How do we co-develop a research agenda?

DEVELOPING A JOINT RESEARCH AGENDA: WHAT QUESTIONS REMAIN?

Paula Arce-Trigatti, NNERPP | 2017

Blogpost on the NNERPP blog

DEVELOPING A COHERENT RESEARCH AGENDA: LESSONS FROM THE REL NEI RESEARCH AGENDA WORKSHOPS

Julie Kochanek, Natalie Lacireno-Paquet, and Rebecca Carey | 2014

Brief and template on how to develop a research agenda

ACHIEVING SCHOOL REFORM IN CHICAGO: WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW

Anthony S. Bryk and Penny Bender Sebring | 1991

Example of a research agenda

JOINT RESEARCH AGENDAS FOR THE 8 REL SOUTHWEST RESEARCH ALLIANCES

REL Southwest | No date recorded

Example of a research agenda

HOW DO WE DEVELOP A DATA SHARING AGREEMENT?

Data sharing arrangements between researchers and practitioners are one of the most important topics to consider when starting a research-practice partnership. It should be broached early, since multiple iterations of drafts describing agreements may be necessary given the sensitive nature of the data. Many of the partnerships in NNERPP utilize administrative data, but other considerations may be necessary if the partnership intends on producing and collecting its own data. Examples of data sharing agreements can be found here.

Additional guiding questions:

 

  • Which agency (the research side or the practice side) will house the data to be used within the partnership?
  • How often will data pulls occur? Under what conditions will data pulls occur (e.g., every semester, only if a project requires it, etc.)?
  • What steps will be taken on both sides of the partnership to ensure quality and security of the data?
  • Who will handle external data requests? In some cases, the education agency partner may continue to address these, but in others, it may make more sense to have the research agency manage it.

RESOURCES | How do we develop a data sharing agreement?