In Sunday's session "Beyond Peer Review: Packaging Your Work for Different Audiences," Kristin Rosengren, AcademyHealth; Jeffrey Crowley, Georgetown University; James Hahn, Congressional Research Service; and Donald Taylor, Duke University; focused on a critical question: What are the best ways researchers can translate their findings to policy makers? The simple answer is that it comes down to communicating the right thing, at the right time, to the right people. Of course, none of that, on its own, is anything close to simple, and the rewards can be hard to see, but the effort is worth it. The research is important, said Crowley, even when it seems that no one is listening. The panel offered the following suggestions for framing the work for a policy audience: 1.) Researchers have to ask if their research fits in with current policy questions. Research questions and policy questions are not necessarily the same thing. We need to ask ourselves - and our colleagues in implementation - what the problem is that needs a solution.  Further, pressures are different in the worlds of academia and policy. This leads to an affinity on the policy making side for realism and practicality over elegance of research design. The line between good research and "good enough" research is important, if hard to define. 2.) Publication timing isn't policy timing. Policy and research schedules rarely align naturally, so it's important to consider the policy context and where your work fits. Timeliness is not defined by being most recent, but by being most relevant to the current debate. Because policy agendas change rapidly, research can become relevant overnight and researchers have to be ready respond with their work when the agenda demands it. That can mean sharing work that is still in its early stages or resending work published some time ago. Incremental findings can be helpful even if they do not provide all the pieces to a complex puzzle. 3.) Know your audience and speak the language. Hill staffers are "intelligent lay readers". Don't talk down to them or use a lot of acronyms or industry jargon. Also, consider your talking points. The glass is half full is a much easier sell than the glass is half empty. Invert your abstract when talking -- lead with your finding, and then back it up with detail. 4.) Blogging and social media are a growing trend. Congressional staff and others are looking for research in different ways, and that includes Twitter and blogs. These media are also excellent for monitoring trends and changes in agenda. "Twitter is an underrated listening device," said Taylor, and researchers can use it to selectively monitor the national, and even international, conversation around their research area. 5.) There is no single magic envelope for packaging research. Different audiences have different needs at different times. It may take a  combination of dissemination methods before the research findings meet their intended audience. The process is one of trial and error. Dig in and be persistent!

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