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A new model of collaborative research

Associate Professor Sonia Wuztke

By Associate Professor Sonia Wutzke

The paper

Wutzke S, Redman S, Bauman A, Hawe P, Shiell A, Thackway S, Wilson A. A new model of collaborative research: experiences from one of Australia’s NHMRC Partnership Centres for Better Health. Public Health Res Pract. 2017;27(1):e2711706.

 

Why we studied this topic

We know that partnership research is a key enabler of the use of research evidence in practice and policy. As has been done overseas to encourage co-produced partnership research, the NHMRC has made a large-scale investment into Partnership Centres, including The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre. This paper articulates what we have learned so far about the key features of Partnership Centres.

What this paper adds

Based on our experience, we have found that the distinctive features of the Partnership Centre funding model have resulted in unique outcomes that would not have been possible through investigator-led or commissioned research alone. This paper discusses the features of the The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre that encourage different ways of working, including shared decision-making, coproduction and a flexible work plan.

What was surprising?

There have been challenges in working in a collaborative model at this scale. It has required new research governance processes, new approaches for contracts and financing, and the creation of new administrative roles and responsibilities. It has also required a culture change for many, both for partners from academia and from the policy world.

What it means for policy

We conclude that the Partnership Centre model creates a unique opportunity for more high-quality, timely and innovative research that is  relevant for policy and practice. It will be necessary for large-scale research-policy-practice partnerships to be sustained long term for the full advantages of this new model of research to be realised.