Setting a Research Priority

Setting a Research Priority

Agencies should have a process in place for deciding which research questions or topics should be given priority. This process should involve the research community (including internal agency staff and external stakeholders) to help build the relationship between the agency and researchers and increase the likelihood that priority research questions will be answerable and reflect current knowledge. The priority setting process allows for periodic reassessment based on changes in the knowledge base and the new initiatives in child welfare services. Having a clear set of priorities also makes agency decisions not to participate in research appear less political. The priorities should be made available to researchers to minimize the likelihood that the agency will be bombarded with requests to conduct research on topics that are not of pressing interest to the agency.

 

An example of this is the pervasiveness of disparities and disproportionality. If a community of agencies and private stakeholders did not prioritize this issue and invest in researching this phenomenon, it may not have been identified as a systemic issue.

 

Additional steps to inform the setting of a research priority include:

  • Scan of research that has already been taken to develop a complete inventory of existing resources.
  • Development of a complete menu of research questions that meet pressing information gaps or needs. This list should then be prioritized to identify the research ideas that reflect the operational, developmental and evaluative needs of the public child welfare agency.
  • Identification of target goals / priority areas of interest where the agency will independently or collaboratively invest in to complete full research projects.





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