Disseminating the Results

Communicating the findings of research is an essential stage of the research process.

The skills needed to understand and critically assess the quality of research - known as critical appraisal - are very important, because this allows clinicians and managers to decide whether and how a particular positive or negative result may be relevant to their own work.

Ensuring that others working in the same field are able to learn from the results of a completed study is important - to improve care and knowledge, or influence policy or service planning, or - if a well-designed and well-run study is negative, to stop doing an activity which may be ineffective or even harmful.

Future research needs to build on what has already been learned and evidence based care depends on the continuing “conversation” about the results of research.

Part of the research plan for a project is the dissemination plan. It is part of ethical practice to disseminate the results of research, and when the findings are relevant for clinical practice it is important that clinicians are made aware of them in the most appropriate way.

When a study is published in a peer reviewed journal, there are several benefits:

  • It can be assumed to meet a minimum standard of scientific quality because it has been subject to the critical scrutiny of the reviewers before publication
  • It can be retrieved by searching the literature (although not all palliative care journals are indexed in the major databases)
  • Articles in high impact peer-reviewed journals are considered a key ‘deliverable’ by many research funding bodies and contribute to the research team’s ‘track record’ when seeking funding for further research.

Presentation at conferences may involve poster or oral presentations and the opportunity to discuss or debate the findings with peers can be extremely valuable. However information presented at conferences may not be so easily retrievable by other researchers.

To improve this situation, CareSearch collects abstracts and posters from a number of key conferences and from non-indexed journals in its Grey Literature collection, and this database is searchable. Communicating findings to the media may also be important in some circumstances.

The Primary Health Care Research and Information Service (PHCRIS) provides a useful set of factsheets to help with the practical aspects of the dissemination process, including writing abstracts, preparing effective posters and PowerPoint presentations, and writing media releases.

CareSearch in conjunction with the Centre for Research Excellence in End-of-Life Care  has developed a module Disseminating Research Findings.  This module looks at communicating research findings in a thoughtful, planned way.

Last updated 20 January 2017