The dissemination of findings of research funded by the Department of Health and Social Security
This thesis examines factors affecting the dissemination of findings arising from DHSS-funded health and personal social services (HPSS) research. The Department's programme covers a broad area of HPSS research, and is highly diverse in respect of topics, methods, research personnel and institutions, etc. The findings of projects within this programme are normally expected to have relevance to 'customer divisions' within the Department, whilst also having interest and implications for a variety of extra-Departmental groups. For the purpose of this investigation, DHSS, the research community and research audiences were each viewed as 'open systems' exchanging information (along with other commodities) with one another. Researchers and 'key actors' within DHSS (i.e. personnel concerned with research management and the Department's information resources and publications) were interviewed to determine the nature and extent of their communication practices, and to examine how each came to adopt his or her particular methods for processing and transmitting research information. The handling of completed research within the Department was further studied by means of an analysis of the minutes and papers of the DESS Research Liaison Groups. Amongst other findings it is shown that the fixed-term nature of research funding limits researchers' opportunities for a full dissemination of their findings. meanwhile, the research community's reward system leads researchers to publish their findings preferentially in specialist research journals. Dissemination to the field, to practitioners in particular, is further frustrated by the Department's uncertainty with regard to the role which it should play in assisting or effecting such action, and by its preferential concern for the consideration of the implications of research findings for primary Departmental 'customers'.