The National Academies

NCHRP 23-30 [Pending]

Strategies to Improve Application of Research Results in the Research Life Cycle

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 24 months
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared


State departments of transportation (DOTs) have invested a significant amount of effort to support the implementation of applied transportation research results. However, research results often go unused, or the adoption of the results is incomplete. There is also some concern among state DOTs that the value of research is not commensurate with the investment, which could hinder future investment and ultimately innovation within the transportation community. 

The incomplete adoption of applied research results in the implementation phase is not unique to transportation. To address this problem, the health and education sectors have used “knowledge translation” (KT), a knowledge management practice that maps the research life cycle from ideation to implementation, evaluates research products, and incorporates the adoption of research results in real-world settings. The transportation sector has explored elements of KT as part of an overall effort to increase the speed of research implementation but has focused only on segments of the research life cycle. 

Application of KT to the entire research life cycle can provide the means to consider and address the human and organizational aspects of implementation in each life cycle segment, examining each segment to identify weaknesses and opportunities for intervention to improve adoption. This broader application of KT, however, as a knowledge management strategy has yet to be explored. Research is needed to examine the application of KT to the entire transportation research life cycle and help state DOTs develop resources for this application to improve the value of research and the adoption of research results. 


The objective of this research is to develop resources that support state DOTs in the application of KT to the research lifecycle. The resources developed should provide the following: 

  • Definition of KT and explanation of (1) KT practices, including participants, activities, and resources needed at each stage of the KT life cycle; and (2) the relationship between KT and transportation research implementation;
  • Comparison of current transportation research models with the KT life cycle to identify leverage points, improvement opportunities, and potential barriers; and 
  • Identification of strategic actions to promote KT practices within the transportation research life cycle to improve implementation of research results. 



Task 1. Delineate KT methods and investigate current KT practices. 

Task 1a. Review literature on KT. Identify sectors leveraging KT methods and summarize uses of KT and variations in application. Include peer-reviewed and gray literature within and outside the transportation sector on KT and a review of transportation research and innovation implementation and adoption practices relative to KT. 

Task 1b. Develop a draft stakeholder engagement plan. The goal of the engagement plan is to gain a better understanding of current practices as outlined in the objective. Engagement could include interviews and/or surveys about research and innovation implementation and adoption practices. Stakeholder contacts may include state DOT research managers, subject matter experts that help communicate and implement research practices, KT practitioners, change management practitioners, and researchers. Review current state DOT research models and practices to integrate research implementation, including end-user engagement patterns. Submit a technical memorandum summarizing the results of Task 1 and including the draft engagement plan. NCHRP approval of the technical memorandum is required before work on subsequent tasks begins. 

Task 2. Conduct stakeholder engagement. Balanced representation of stakeholders from different sectors and within those sectors is essential. Provide updates to NCHRP on progress at appropriate points in the outreach, for example, concurrent with the submittal of progress reports. 

Task 3. Propose written and electronic draft resources to be developed in Phase II. Resources must include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Research administration guide aimed at state DOTs; 
  • Researcher handbook on applying KT principles throughout the research life cycle;
  • Summary of KT principles, practices, and value for leadership; and
  • Learning modules for different audiences and levels of KT maturity. 

Task 4. Interim report. Submit an interim report summarizing the findings of Tasks 1 to 3, including draft resources, outreach, and evaluation plan. Present the interim report to NCHRP at an in-person meeting. NCHRP will fund travel for project panel members. NCHRP approval of the interim report and deliverables is required before work on subsequent tasks begins. 


Task 5. Develop and evaluate draft resources. Further stakeholder input on resource utility and adaptability is recommended as part of the outreach and evaluation activities. Submit a technical memorandum summarizing the results of resource development and evaluation for NCHRP approval. NCHRP approval is required before work on subsequent tasks begins.   

Task 6. Finalization of resources. Use findings from Task 5, including stakeholder input, to finalize resources. 

Task 7. Submit final deliverables. Final deliverables shall include (1) a conduct of research report summarizing the entire research effort, (2) the final resources on KT, (3) an implementation memo, and (4) a slide summary. 


STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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