The Role of Evaluation in Research-Practice Integration: Working Toward the "Golden Spike"

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Program evaluation and planning is at the heart of efforts to integrate the domains of practice and research. Traditionally, research and practice have operated in independent spheres with practitioners focused on the implementation of programs that affect individual behavior and researchers focused on the development and testing of theory. Evidence-based practice (EBP), practice-based evidence, and translational research have attempted to unite these worlds, and although significant advances have been made, there is a continued need to find mechanisms that enable a seamless connection between knowledge generation and application. We propose a method that builds on the traditions of theory-driven evaluation, logic modeling, and systems science and uses evaluation and program planning as the bridging mechanism between research and practice. Included in this approach are methods that aid in the explicit expression of implicit theories, management of evaluation resources, and linkage of program theory and evaluation measures to a research evidence base.



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