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Mock abstracts with mock findings: a device to catalyse production, interpretation and use of knowledge outputs in a university-policy-practice research partnership

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A number of ways to conduct research are designed to maximise the likelihood that evidence from research is quickly transferred into practice. This includes action research and partnership research between researchers and policy makers. Such approaches focus research effort on questions of highest relevance to practice and policy so as to create ownership of the results. However, such approaches on their own do not necessarily visualise or illuminate possible pathways of action or create a sense of personal connection to these possible actions. We describe a simple, creative, innovative device: production of co-authored mock (that is, fake) in-house abstracts of peer-reviewed papers as an aid in this process. The intent is to foster high-level engagement with possible project findings by policy makers and researchers involved in partnership research. This occurs in advance of knowing the real results of the study. The mock abstracts process described here occurs within a research-policy maker-practitioner partnership studying the scaling-up of childhood statewide obesity prevention programmes and the electronic monitoring system being used to track progress. The mock abstracts are a tool for identifying priority interests among a large data set. They act as a trigger to uncovering different interpretations of findings among the team. They foster discussion and mental rehearsal of actions based on different scenarios. And they help the team coordinate participation in the analysis and writing-up of the real findings. They also represent a hypothetical variety of research endpoints which assist with maintaining project momentum during long phases of analysis.

key messages

  1. Mock abstracts with mock (fake) results can be written in advance of research findings.

  2. The purpose is to reduce the evidence-to-practice gap by rehearsing both interpretation and action.

  3. Mock abstracts can be used to illustrate the role of theory in interpreting research findings.

  4. Potentially sensitive findings can be defused by illustrating pathways to address problems.

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Keywords: hypothetical findings; partnership research; scenario planning

Affiliations: 1: University of Sydney, Australia 2: Liverpool Hospital, Australia 3: New South Wales Ministry of Health, Australia 4: South Western Sydney Local Health District, Australia

Appeared or available online: October 9, 2019

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