Rachel Wood, Knowledge, Research and Evaluation lead – A Better Start Southend

Why exchanging knowledge matters

“Accumulation of knowledge and information is not enough: the effectiveness of environmental management depends greatly on how knowledge is exchanged, with whom it is exchanged, and how it is used.”[1]

Researchers have argued there can be a 17-year lag in some fields before research findings are reflected in practice[1].

In a study published by the Royal Society of Medicine, researchers undertook a systematic review into why this delay seemed to occur in the health system.

Their conclusions were mixed. Sometimes the so-called ‘gap’ was driven by the necessity of safety measures and quality assurance, but in other cases the reason for delays were less clear, as to where the circulation of knowledge could be improved. Interestingly, it has also been argued by some that de-adoption can also provide challenges.

Thankfully, there has been great moves forward in understanding the benefits of avoiding  unnecessary ‘gaps’.

For instance, Sajja and Akerkar[2] describe how organisations and partnerships that support mechanisms for learning and knowledge management can:

  • Help use evidence to improve and influence policy, practice and process
  • Enable and support the community and practitioners to share both experiences and knowledge (and impact research)
  • Improve accessibility

These are, at least in part, the reasons why the A Better Start Southend (ABSS) Research Bulletin was developed.

The Bulletin recently celebrated its 25th edition, being first launched by ABSS in February 2017. So, as we reach this milestone, now seems like a great time to review the bulletin, and look at ways that it is, and could be contributing to the research and practice landscape in going forward. As part of this review we hope to build its profile and on feedback that we have received already, for instance a stakeholder commented it is:

“a great idea to keep stakeholders in Southend informed about latest research in relevant fields”.

As with all that ABSS does the Bulletin strives to contribute to the ‘test and learn’ ethos of the entire A Better Start programme: learning as we go ways to support practice and outcomes, whilst being informed by the best available research.

In its early beginnings, it was recognised that it was crucial to look at recent research contributions to the early year’s landscape and evidence base, and to provide:

  • A summary of the research, policy or practice findings
  • A description of how the findings can and are being used in practice, and
  • Some conversation starters, and ways that we can contribute to shaping projects and innovations in prevention and early intervention

In most editions we have aimed to review five articles relating to our key ABSS objectives: improving social and emotional development, diet and nutrition, communication and language, community resilience and systems change.

In future editions we are also looking to extend how we show the ways that practitioners and the community are leading the way in innovation, and are developing as peer researchers themselves.

Please share the bulletin as widely as possible and  let us know your ideas for future development of the publication and suggestions for editorial content. Get in touch via abssresearch@eyalliance.org.uk

We look forward to hearing from you.

Rachel A.Wood is Knowledge, Research and Evaluation Lead at A Better Start Southend and Editor of the ABSS Research Bulletin




[1] (Pullin & Knight 2001; Cash et al. 2003; Francis & Goodman 2011).

[2] E.g. Morris, ZS. Wooding, S. and Grant, J. (2011), Munro, CL. And Savel, RH (2016), and Schoelles, K. Umscheid, C. Lin, J. et al (2017)

[3] Sajja, PS and Akerkar, R eds. (2009), Knowledge Based Systems, Jones and Bartlett





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