Using research to influence family services and policies: issues and challenges
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There is growing national and international interest in the ways that research might influence policy and practice. The 4 articles in the Open Space section of this journal issue discuss how research is used to inform policy and practice development and how this relationship can be enhanced. They build on a dialogue at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) national conference in November 2011, which considered the impact of social research. This introductory article considers some of the key issues and challenges around using research drawing on presentations made by the authors at the conference. It begins by outlining what research use means and then offers some emerging lessons about how such use can be improved. This is followed by reflections on how these lessons relate to the experiences of 2 units dedicated to improving research use: CRFR (Scotland); and the Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit at York University (Toronto, Canada). Then the contribution of the other 3 articles in this journal issue to understanding the complexities of research use is discussed. Finally, future challenges are considered.