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Abstract

Background: Addressing the uptake of research findings into policy-making is increasingly important for researchers who ultimately seek to contribute to improved health outcomes. The aims of the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d Programme) initiated by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation are to create and disseminate knowledge that supports policy changes in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This paper reports on five r4d research projects and shows how researchers engage with various stakeholders, including policy-makers, in order to assure uptake of the research results. Methods: Eleven in-depth interviews were conducted with principal investigators and their research partners from five r4d projects, using a semi-structured interview guide. The interviews explored the process of how stakeholders and policy-makers were engaged in the research project. Results: Three key strategies were identified as fostering research uptake into policies and practices: (S1) stakeholders directly engaged with and sought evidence from researchers; (S2) stakeholders were involved in the design and throughout the implementation of the research project; and (S3) stakeholders engaged in participatory and transdisciplinary research approaches to coproduce knowledge and inform policy. In the first strategy, research evidence was directly taken up by international stakeholders as they were actively seeking new evidence on a very specific topic to up-date international guidelines. In the second strategy, examples from two r4d projects show that collaboration with stakeholders from early on in the projects increased the likelihood of translating research into policy, but that the latter was more effective in a supportive and stable policy environment. The third strategy adopted by two other r4d projects demonstrates the benefits of promoting colearning as a way to address potential power dynamics and working effectively across the local policy landscape through robust research partnerships. Conclusions: This paper provides insights into the different strategies that facilitate collaboration and communication between stakeholders, including policy-makers, and researchers. However, it remains necessary to increase our understanding of the interests and motivations of the different actors involved in the process of influencing policy, identify clear policy-influencing objectives and provide more institutional support to engage in this complex and time-intensive process.

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