How can researchers bridge the gap between scholarship and public administration?

October 15, 2013

Public administrators draw on a number of different sources to inform their work including the news, blogs, podcasts, etc. But why aren't they drawing on scholarly research from published academics as a key resource and what can scholars themselves do about it? More than they might think, suggests new research.

A new article published in State and Local Government Review outlines how to conduct and disseminate academic research that is relevant, collaborative, and accessible to local government practitioners.

The research is based on a panel conducted in the summer of 2013 with four highly-experienced local government managers from across the U.S. The managers were asked about their reading practices of academic material and what scholars could do to make their research more accessible and useful for .

Not surprisingly, the managers stressed that relevance is key in helping them decide what to read. The panel members listed public engagement, emotional intelligence, priority-based budgeting, leadership, decision making, motivation, and collaboration as topics that would assist them in their work.

"The managers expressed a preference for articles that identify how the findings can be applied and that are not overly focused on a methodology which may be difficult for some practitioners to follow," the authors stated

The researchers found that while collaboration with practitioners would help the scholars identify topics that are important to government managers, practitioner participation in scholarly journal articles is low. The article provides suggestions to increase collaboration between scholars and public administrators.

"In addition to the interactions addressed by the local government managers in the panel (having the practitioners serve as adjunct instructors and on advisory boards for graduate programs and intern programs), exchanges between academics and practitioners may be useful," the authors wrote. "In the latter, faculty members work in a government setting or government officials work in the academic setting for a specified time period."

The researchers also identified wider dissemination of research articles through professional organizations and evolving open access journals, the release of research findings through other types of media and through blogs, online courses, or webinars, the creation of a journal targeted to government managers, and the creation of sections within a journal that are specifically targeted to officials as potential solutions to the problem.

The researchers concluded, "If is to be more useful for practitioners, academics and journal editors need to reach out to practitioners, listen to what they have to say, and identify ways to be responsive to their needs and interests."

Explore further: Managing biodiversity data from local government

More information: Find out more by reading the article "Increasing the Usefulness of Academic Scholarship for Local Government Practitioners" in State and Local Government Review available now for a limited time here: slg.sagepub.com/content/45/3/197.full.pdf+html

Related Stories

Americans support local control of schools

July 17, 2012

Despite criticism that local school boards are "dinosaurs" that need to be replaced, Americans support local control of their schools, Michigan State University education scholars argue in a new paper.

Recommended for you

Amateur paleontologist finds rare fossil of fish in Arizona

September 3, 2015

Growing up, Stephanie Leco often would dig in her backyard and imagine finding fossils of a tyrannosaurus rex. She was fascinated with the idea of holding something in her hand that was millions of years old and would give ...

Early human diet explains our eating habits

August 31, 2015

Much attention is being given to what people ate in the distant past as a guide to what we should eat today. Advocates of the claimed palaeodiet recommend that we should avoid carbohydrates and load our plates with red meat ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.