Translational research involves multiple stakeholders in the research process to strengthen the work of all involved.
The process of translational research (TR) connects researchers, practitioners, policymakers and community members in various combinations with the purpose of creating better research, policies, programs and practices. The TR process can be applied to any area of study, any community issue or program or any governmental policy creation process.
When designing a new research project, scientists may involve community practitioners, who have daily knowledge from the field, in writing the research questions. This approach takes into account community knowledge that academics are otherwise unable to access. It also ensures that researchers are examining issues that are urgent and useful to practitioners.
Community practitioners in schools, youth programs, hospitals and other organizations have important and unique knowledge. But, institutional culture may rely on traditions or outdated research in some areas. TR connects community institutions to researchers that can inform practitioners of the latest research and how to understand research methods so they can update their programming and keep abreast of new findings in the future.
After findings from a TR project are in and implemented in a community program, evaluation is an important follow-up step to ensure that the predicted results are actualized in the real world. Doing a strenuous evaluation of a program can lead to another cycle of research and evaluation. Translational research is an ongoing, living dialog between researchers and communities, keeping them connected over time.