Research for all

Paperback / softback, 34 pages, 210 mm x 148 mm
26 Jun 2013
Institute of Education Press

Price: £5.99

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Examining health services research from the perspective of service users demonstrates that, although research methods are applied meticulously, research findings can still be misleading. In her Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Sandy Oliver offers two solutions.

The first focuses on the social attributes of a study, such as who designs it and who interprets its findings. The second focuses on how we can review research literature systematically to learn from many - inevitably partial - studies simultaneously. As systematic reviews have evolved for each new academic discipline or policy sector, they have provided clear, methodical and justifiable innovations for answering important questions from the available literature. Combining these two solutions in participatory systematic reviews makes sense of research literatures in terms that are most useful to potential users.

These solutions are at the vanguard of change in health and social policy research. However, while similar advances have been made across other academic disciplines, public engagement with research is still more rhetoric than reality. Academics need the motivation, the means and an environment that is conducive to public engagement. Pressure on universities to provide that environment comes from funders responding to the expectations of a dynamic social movement for public engagement. Universities' efforts will be more productive after developing a shared understanding - not just within disciplines but between them - of what public engagement offers and a rationale for choosing between its various forms.

  • Sandy Oliver

    Sandy Oliver is Professor of Public Policy and Deputy Director of the Social Science Research Unit at the Institute of Education, University of London.