Supplee, L., Boaz, A., & Metz, A.(2023). Learning across contexts: Bringing together research on research use and implementation science. William T. Grant Foundation. https://wtgrantfoundation.org/the-digest-issue-8
Recent publications by implementation researchers underscore promising new directions in implementation science while also acknowledging potential challenges for the field to address in the years ahead (Beidas et al., 2022; Metz et al., 2022). At the same time, scholars in the field of research on research use are forging new directions of their own by drawing on a wider range of bodies of knowledge to investigate strategies for improving and assessing research use.
The fields of implementation science and the study of research use in policy and practice travel on many of the same roads and share similar goals, chief among which is improving societal outcomes through the application of research. Both fields also attract interdisciplinary teams and create strikingly similar knowledge across contexts. However, key differences have emerged in these two fields of study and the assumptions they make in the empirical work. These differences provide opportunities to strengthen the next generation of both implementation science and research on research use.
In this essay, the authors highlight how similarities and differences in the methods, approaches, and evolution of each of these fields can contribute to mutually beneficial insights and potential alignments. They describe each field in detail, with an eye toward highlighting key assumptions and differences, and they conclude by discussing opportunities for learning across fields. Overall, they aim to inspire a dialogue that may build a stronger foundation for supporting evidence use in ways that achieve equitable outcomes for people and communities.