This paper reflects on experiences of Australian public health researchers and members of research policy advisory groups (PAGs) in working with PAGs. It considers their benefits and challenges for building researcher and policy actor collaboration and ensuring policy relevance of research.
Four research projects conducted between 2015 and 2020 were selected for analysis. 68 PAG members from Australian federal, state and local governments, NGOs and academics participated in providing feedback. Thematic analysis of participant feedback and researchers’ critical reflections on the effectiveness and capacity of PAGs to support research translation was undertaken.
PAGs benefit the research process and can facilitate knowledge translation. PAG membership changes, differing researcher and policy actor agendas, and researchers’ need to balance policy relevance and research independence are challenges when working with PAGs. Strategies to improve the function of health policy research PAGs are identified.
The paper suggests a broader adapted approach for gaining the benefits and addressing the challenges of working with PAGs. It opens theoretical and practical discussion of PAGs’ role and how they can increase research translation into policy.