Why exchanging knowledge matters

A Better Start
Rachel A. Wood

Researchers have argued there can be a 17-year lag in some fields before research findings are reflected in practice1. 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 was 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 have been great moves forward in understanding the benefits of avoiding unnecessary ‘gaps’.

For instance, Sajja and Akerkar2 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.

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 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:

As part of this review we hope to build its profile in response to 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 years 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.

So 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.

About A Better Start

A Better Start is a ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme set-up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Five A Better Start partnerships based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. Working with local parents, the A Better Start partnerships are developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and speech, language and communication. The work of the programme is grounded in scientific evidence and research. A Better Start is place-based and enabling systems change. It aims to improve the way that organisations work together and with families to shift attitudes and spending towards preventing problems that can start in early life. It is one of five major programmes set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier

The National Children’s Bureau is coordinating an ambitious programme of shared learning for A Better Start, disseminating the partnerships’ experiences in creating innovative services far and wide, so that others working in early childhood development or place-based systems change can benefit.

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1 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)

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