RURU was established in 2001 through initial funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of its investment in evidence-based policy and practice. Since then, members of RURU have been involved in many projects aimed at understanding and improving research use. The lessons from these projects are captured in a wide range of academic and practitioner publications.
Our overall aim is to improve our understanding of how research interacts with policy and practice, with the intention of enabling such interactions to become more frequent, deeper and more constructive. We do this because we believe that the ways in which research is combined with other forms of evidence and knowledge is likely to have important impacts on the nature, distribution, effectiveness, efficiency and quality of public services.
Developing policy and practice that is better informed by research than has often been the case to date requires more than just strengthening the quality and quantity of relevant research. Ways have to be found to ensure that research connects with and impacts on policy making, service planning and professional practice. Our role is to investigate and document these processes.
There is much to be gained from building a cross-sector evidence base on research use given that so much of our current knowledge is usually only discussed within sector silos. For this reason, we have historically sought to synthesise thinking and empirical evidence on research use especially from four key public service areas: health care, social care, education and criminal justice. But we recognise that these concerns go far wider and so we are also interested in how research influences and impacts in other areas such as sustainability, international development, transport, housing, welfare and many more besides.