Policy makers and practitioners frequently seek evidence to inform their work. The right evidence can be hard to locate, however, and sometimes is not available. In such circumstances, partnering with researchers to generate evidence around key policy or practice questions can be beneficial. This resource has been created to assist policy makers and practitioners in the sometimes challenging process of initiating and sustaining a successful evidence generation partnership. Here we provide guidance related to the steps required to:  determine what kind of evidence is needed and whether or not it is already available (Section 1); consider which researchers to partner with (if more evidence is needed) and how to set a new partnership up for success (Section 2); and put in place strategies to increase the likelihood of the collaboration continuing to function well throughout all stages (Section 3).

Section 1. What evidence do I need and how might I obtain it?

  1. What evidence do I need and how might I use it?
  2. Is the evidence I need already available?
  3. How can I tell if the available evidence is relevant and reliable?
  4. What are the next steps if more evidence is required?

Section 2. If a research partnership is required: How should I choose who to collaborate with and set our research partnership up for success?

  1. How do I determine which potential research partners to work with?
  2. How do I commission research or evaluations?
  3. Where can I seek funding for partnership research?
  4. How do I develop shared aims within the partnership?
  5. What are the key issues to discuss at the beginning of a partnership project?
  6. What are some useful models for structuring MOUs, contracts and other governance documents?
  7. What are some useful models for authorship and dissemination plans?
  8. How do I develop a dissemination plan?
  9. What kind of documentation is it useful to have around dissemination in partnership projects?
  10. How do I clearly outline what my agency expects in relation to partnership deliverables?

Section 3. How can I ensure my research collaboration functions well throughout the life of the collaboration?

  1. How can I help to maintain a strong collaboration?
  2. How can I assess how well our partnership is functioning?
  3. How do I conclude a partnership well?


The development of this resource was led by Dr Anna Williamson at the Sax Institute and funded by the NSW Ministry of Health under the NSW Health Early-Mid Career Fellowships Scheme. Critical guidance and feedback on the development of this resource was generously provided by Associate Professor Sarah Thackway (Executive Director, Epidemiology and Evidence, New South Wales Health), Dr Jessica Stewart (Executive Director, FACSIAR – Family and Community Services Insights Analysis and Research), Associate Professor Luke Woolfenden (School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle and Program Manager | Hunter New England Clinical Research Fellow | Hunter New England Population Health), Julie Dixon (Director Planning, Population Health and Equity at South Eastern Sydney Local Health District), Lyndal O’Leary (Manager Health Promotion,¬† Western NSW & Far West Local Health Districts) and Professor Fadi El-Jardali (Professor of Health Policy and Systems; Director of the Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Center; Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Evidence-informed Policy and Practice.