From ‘our world’ to the ‘real world’: exploring the behaviour of policy-influential Australian public health researchers

09 June 2010

Research and researchers influence the genesis and development of public health policy in limited but essential ways. Surveys and interviews with 36 peer-nominated “highly influential” Australian public health researchers found they engaged in a breadth of strategies that included rigorous but targeted research design, multilateral collaboration, multiple methods of research dissemination and promotion (including tactical use of the media), and purposeful development of bridging relationships. Researchers’ ability to understand the worlds of research, policy and the media and to speak their languages (or to work with others who fulfilled this role) was a key factor. Advocacy, a fundamental strategy for some, was disparaged by others. Influential behaviours were guided by values and beliefs about the principles underlying traditional science and the contrasting ethos of contemporary research.