Developing a Research Agenda For Your Agency

  • What are your agency’s research priorities?
  • How do you decide which research or evaluation activities to undertake?
  • How do you decide whether a university researcher will have access to your clients or programs for research?

Agencies that develop their own research agendas can answer these questions. They think strategically about how to most effectively use research to improve the well-being of their clients. They foster collaboration between research and policy in determining priorities.

While responding to every research opportunity is appealing, it may also result in stretched resources, “over-researched” client populations, and fragmented learning. Instead, developing a set of priority research activities will help you to focus your resources.

Opportunities to engage in research projects may come from outside of your agency. For example, an academic researcher may want to reach your clients as study subjects or you may have evaluation obligations to your funders. Other times, research activity may be internally driven. For example, a service provider tries a new technique and sees anecdotal success that you would like to replicate.

Your research agenda can also describe criteria that can guide you in decisions about how you allocate your research and evaluation resources. For example:

  • Does the proposed project tap into the same client pool as other studies?
  • Is there a clear benefit to your clients?
  • Will the process or results of the project advance the knowledge of your agency? How?

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