Tips on Implementation Research
A few important points to enhance use of the IR Tips…
- IR can inform practices, programs and policies. Throughout the IR Tips, we often refer to “program” implementation for the sake of brevity when in reality this encompasses practices, programs, and policies.
- These IR Tips have been developed to support decision makers, which may include policymakers, program managers, practitioners, or donors. Throughout the IR Tips, we will use the word “decision makers” to refer to any one of these sub-groups.
- We welcome input on how the tips might be enhanced, improved or expanded. Please provide feedback on the IR Tips and/or suggestions for additional useful resources by contacting us at CIRCLE@socialsolutions.biz.
How can the IR Tips be useful to you?
IR Tips guide decision makers through the IR process. Each IR Tip uses examples and case studies to illustrate the material presented and includes links to a “short-list” of relevant resources to learn more about a given topic. Here’s what you can expect to find:
IR Tip #1 will help you answer some of the following commonly asked questions:
- What is IR and what are its key features?
- What does IR help us to do?
- How does IR lead to more effective implementation?
- When is IR an appropriate way to strengthen implementation?
- What kinds of issues or topics can I study with IR to better understand implementation?
- What kinds of questions should I consider before deciding to conduct an IR study?
- What are the key steps in conducting IR?
IR Tip #2 can help if you find yourself asking questions such as:
- How it different from other types of research?
- What kind of information does IR produce?
- What is the difference between an intervention and an implementation strategy?
- What are implementation outcomes and why do we measure them?
Many decision makers wonder how IR is different or complementary to other efforts. IR Tip #3 will help to answer:
- How does IR compare with other approaches to program strengthening like routine monitoring, quality improvement, program evaluation, adaptive learning, etc?
- How can you decide when to use IR?
- When is IR most useful?
With so many priorities to manage, this IR Tip will help decision makers hone in on challenges by addressing these questions:
- How do you identify problems that can be solved through IR?
- How do you write a good problem statement?
- Where do you get the information you need to help you identify your implementation problem?
Effective IR requires a strong partnership between implementers, researchers, and policymakers, and meaningful engagement with stakeholders throughout the process. This IR Tip will help answer:
- Who are the stakeholders for IR and what are the benefits of involving them?
- How do you engage stakeholders?
- How can stakeholders support or contribute to IR?
- How do you identify and engage the right partners?
- How and why should you develop a partnership agreement?
In IR, everything starts with a question. This IR Tip will address the following questions:
- What questions should guide the IR?
- What kinds of questions can IR help to answer?
- How do you formulate IR questions?
- What are some examples of good IR questions?
- How do you to prioritize IR questions?
There are many great resources for selecting and using frameworks. This IR Tip will answer:
- Why use a framework?
- What are some commonly used frameworks?
- How do you select or develop a useful framework?
- How do you use the framework in a meaningful way?
- Choice of study design for conducting your IR study depends on the research objectives and questions
- Understanding the ethical considerations and challenges related to IR is important during all phases
of the study
- Process documentation records how and why ‘changes’ are happening during implementation of intervention strategies and provides real-time reflection on the project’s theory of change
- Enhances learning around an intervention strategy’s context, systems, conditions for and drivers of change
- Provides critical information for adapting and scaling effective intervention strategies
- Dissemination of learning in real-time strengthens implementation, builds acceptance of change, ensures ownership, and can result in more sustained uptake
- Adaptive management helps systematize use of learning and respond to changes in the local context
- Multiple tools and approaches to translating and sharing learning must be matched with stakeholder audiences to communicate most effectively and to increase and accelerate impact
IR references and key resources
- A full list of key resources and references cited in the 10 tips on Implementation Research (IR) for decision makers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) for easy reference.
- Access to the IR Reference Repository – an annotated and searchable Excel spreadsheet that catalogues resources investigated in the development of this toolkit.
We welcome input on how the tips might be enhanced, improved or expanded. Please provide feedback on the tips and/or suggestions for additional useful resources by contacting us at CIRCLE@socialsolutions.biz.