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Closing the researcher-practitioner gap: an exploration of the impact of an AHRC networking grant

Hall, Hazel; Cruickshank, Peter; Ryan, Bruce


Hazel Hall


Purpose: Results are presented from a study that investigated the extent to which learning gained through participation in three research methods workshops funded by an AHRC networking grant was applied in practice.
Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected by online survey and focus group from individuals who participated in the Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project workshops in 2011/12. The survey data were coded and analysed manually, as were the transcribed focus group discussions.
Findings: Following the conclusion of the DREaM project the participants at the core of the network applied their learning from the workshops to innovate in the workplace and to develop information services, with evident impact on endusers of library and information services. The strongest impact of the DREaM project, however, was found in reports of widened opportunities for the researcher and practitioner cadre members, many of which arose from collaborations. This provides evidence of a second proven strategy (in addition to the provision of research reports in practitioner publications) for narrowing the LIS research-practice gap: the creation of researcher-practitioner networks.
Research limitations/implications: Collaborative interactions between academic researchers and practitioners bring benefits to both network participants themselves and to the wider communities with which they interact. These are likely to be applicable across a range of subject domains and geographies.
Practical implications: Network grants are valuable for furnishing learning that may be applied in practice, and for bridging the research-practice gap. In library and information science and other domains that suffer from a research-practice gap (e.g. teaching, social work, nursing, policing, management) the bringing together of researchers and practitioners in networks may address problems associated with misunderstandings between the two communities, and lead to improved services provision.
Originality/value: This study provides an evaluation of network development that goes beyond simply reporting changes in network topology. It does so by assessing the value that network relationships provide to individuals and groups, extending knowledge on mechanisms of collaborative interaction within research networks. It is also the first detailed study of the impact of a UK research council networking grant.


Hall, H., Cruickshank, P., & Ryan, B. (2019). Closing the researcher-practitioner gap: an exploration of the impact of an AHRC networking grant. Journal of Documentation, 75(5), 1056-1081.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 8, 2019
Publication Date Sep 9, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 13, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jun 30, 2019
Journal Journal of Documentation
Print ISSN 0022-0418
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 75
Issue 5
Pages 1056-1081
Keywords Collaboration, community development, Developing Research Excellence and Methods, DREaM, DREaM Again, impact, Library and Information Science Research Coalition, learning communities, networks, scholarly networks
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