Social work and the other applied social science professions aim to marshal evidence to inform beneficial social change. Notwithstanding positive intentions, effective application of research to policy and practice is not always robust in achieving impacts. The authors argue that, to do better, we should purposefully connect research to action, including engagement with practitioners and the policy process. This contribution extends the definition of “public impact scholarship” to include this vital connection. Drawing on research from the Brown School’s Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and from the center’s partners, the authors share examples of applied efforts, note successes, and acknowledge instructive losses. They also suggest guidelines for effective applied social research, including strategies to ensure objectivity when research and action are conjoined.
Project: Environment and Social Development