Witten and Hammond (2010) What becomes of social scinces knowledge....pdf

There is no agreed understanding of the process of

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There is no agreed understanding of the process of knowledge transfer (Rich 2001) but most commentators would concur that the traditional notion of knowledge transfer as a linear process in which a researcher produces knowledge, transfers it to a user, who then uses it as a commodity, is inadequate. Various typologies and models of research use have currency in the social science literature (Weiss 1979; Knott and Wildavsky 1980; Huberman 1994; Glasziou and Haynes 2005; Landry et al. 2006). Some models focus on particular points of information exchange whereas others por- tray a process of knowledge transfer between research producers and research users that is *Corresponding author. Email: [email protected] ISSN 1177-083X online # 2010 The Royal Society of New Zealand DOI: 10.1080/1177083X.2010.495048 Ko - tuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online Vol. 5, No. 1, May 2010, 3 ± 12 Downloaded by [University of Western Sydney Ward] at 15:15 11 February 2014
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multistage and iterative (Levin 2007; Nutley et al. 2007). Models of research utilization commonly distinguish between instrumental use, where specific research findings are assumed to be directly applied to policy or practice decisions, and conceptual use, where research is under- stood to contribute indirectly to the flow of ideas and evolving understandings in an area. One of the more enduring typologies of research utilization was developed by Weiss (1979). She proposes different models of research use ranging from instrumental approaches knowl- edge-driven and problem-solving models) through to strategic uses of research (political and tactical models) to models that describe research use as primarily conceptual (interactive and enlightenment models), where ideas are circulating, challenging and shaping think- ing in the policy and practice milieu within which decisions are made (Weiss 1979; Nutley et al. 2007). Instrumental models tend to view research transfer and uptake as a linear process whereas the more conceptual models tend to see research use as a messy, diffuse and iterative process that is likely to proceed, if it proceeds at all, in a haphazard fashion. The notion of a knowledge cycle in which information use occurs in stages as opposed to at a single point in time was proposed by Rich (2001). The stages identified in Rich’s model imply a push and pull interaction between researcher and user, with a search phase where information is sought, a message and channel stage through which information is dissemi- nated, a stage where information is used partially or completely by decision-makers, and a final phase where information has an impact on the final decision. While this model appears to have linear elements Rich empha- sizes that one stage does not necessarily lead to the next and the process is not always linear.
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