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Soc Sci Med. 2011 Apr;72(7):1047-55. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.02.004. Epub 2011 Feb 26.

From "our world" to the "real world": Exploring the views and behaviour of policy-influential Australian public health researchers.

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University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


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 was seen as fundamental by some but 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. This study may help researchers consider their own policy-related roles, strategies and relationships in the context of increasing calls for research that serves economic and/or social goals.

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