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Bridging the research to practice gap: The utility of understanding juvenile justice practitioners as consumers of research

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $200,000)

Calls for evidence-based practice and policy have echoed across the research, practice, and policy communities. On the research side, billions of dollars are spent funding studies that can 1 be used to enhance the effectiveness of programs and policies, and, on the practice side, funding and incentives are tied to the use of research evidence, as funders are increasingly I committed to investing in what works. Nevertheless, critical gaps between research and
practice remain, especially within juvenile justice. Recently, it has been argued that this gap is exacerbated by a limited understanding of how practitioners engage research. Building off of the research-use framework outlined in a recent Social Policy Report, the objective of this project is to conduct in-depth interviews with 30 judges, 15 prosecutors, and 15 defense attorneys across urban, suburban, and rural jurisdictions throughout the nation. Interview protocols and recruitment will be completed in collaboration with an advisory panel of experts, whose work intersects within the field of juvenile justice, and two expert consultants: a judge, who is a nationally recognized expert on policies and programs for court-involved youth, and an
experienced juvenile justice policy researcher. Through these interviews, we will elucidate information with regards to (1) practitioners' perceptions of the relevance and utility of research
in juvenile justice proceedings; (2) the pathways through which they acquire research; (3) their perceptions of how and when research is used; (4) their perceptions of how and when research should be used; and (5) the conditions that promote or inhibit research use. Data will be entered into NVivo, grounded theory will be used to develop emergent codes based on themes
that arise from the data, and data codes will be refined through an iterative process. The goals of this project are to enhance our understanding of juvenile justice practitioners as consumers
of research, explore whether the way in which practitioners engage research varies as a function of their roles, identify where research fits into juvenile justice proceedings, and how I research is weighted in relation to other factors. The ultimate goal of this project is to produce a
set of recommendations (based on our findings) about best practices in conducting, translating and disseminating research that can be made available to researchers and evaluators, so that
future research can be applied more effectively in practice. Accordingly, an ongoing component I of the project will involve communicating our findings to multiple audiences, through a variety of , mechanisms.

This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 21, 2015