Research Utilization Toolkit

What Is Research Utilization?

Research utilization refers to the application of evidence to policies, programs and practice to improve outcomes.  Research utilization involves various strategies including stakeholder engagement and collaborative research, the use of champions, the use of knowledge brokers, and advocacy and communication, and is bi-directional. It links current research with opportunities to inform policy, programs, and practice.  At the same time, it facilitates the use of experience from programs, policies, and practice to inform new research agendas (see graphic).

Research utilization is relevant for many fields.  Within health, we know that there is a large gap between knowledge production and knowledge application.  According to one estimate, it takes an average of 17 years for health-related research results to be incorporated into routine practice. Moreover, only 14% of findings actually make the transition from research to practice within two decades of their discovery. With so many pressing health needs around the world and competing demands for limited funding, attention is increasingly focusing on to how to introduce and scale-up evidence-based practices.

This toolkit has been developed to help researchers and practitioners address this knowledge-to-practice gap, particularly those working in international reproductive health. It provides users with evidence-based information to help facilitate the research utilization process. The first few tabs provide a thorough background on research utilization, including terminology used in the field, common barriers and challenges, accepted research utilization strategies, and information on scaling up successfully-tested interventions.

The remaining content is organized to help different health professionals (i.e., researchers, program managers, and policy-makers) identify the actions they can take to increase the chances that research results will be applied to programs, policies, and practice in their settings. Practical tools and case studies of successful research utilization projects are also included throughout the toolkit. While many of the toolkit's resources focus on reproductive health, the research utilization strategies are applicable to other technical areas.

Are You...?

You can use the Research Utilization Toolkit to...

A researcher

  • Read about evidence-based research utilization strategies in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Find tools to help you apply research utilization concepts and strategies to the design, implementation, and dissemination of your research and how to become involved in advocacy for policy and program change.
  • Learn how to measure the effectiveness of different research utilization strategies.

A program manager

  • Identify strategies to help move successfully tested health interventions into practice.
  • Find resources on how to scale up health interventions
  • Get tips on how to be involved in the research process.

A policy maker

  • Help you understand how to identify and assess evidence that may be helpful to your programs.
  • Learn more about incorporating evidence into your decision-making process.
  • Find resources and tools to help you advocate for evidence-based policies and programs.


Toolkit last updated: September 28, 2016