On September 13th 5 Dutch ERANID partners came together to exchange knowledge and experiences on illicit drug research, to share preliminary results and to discuss how to increase societal impact of research findings.
European Research Area Network on Illicit Drugs (ERANID) is an international consortium consisting of eleven organisations from six collaborating EU countries (Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom). The main goal of ERANID is to enhance capability and capacity in EU drug research by improving coordination, cooperation and synergies between national and regional funding programmes. ERANID commissioned the development of the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) that resulted in de development of two calls for research proposals in 2015 and 2016. These calls yielded 7 international research projects that are now well on their way. The Netherlands are involved in 6 of these research projects.
Members of 5 ERANID research projects gathered on September 13th for a Dutch meeting on illicit drug research. During the first part of the meeting a member of each research project presented their research progress and preliminary results. Every presentation ended in a short discussion around two questions:
In the afternoon the focus was on ‘the next step’, in other words, ‘how can impact of preliminary results and outcomes be increased and what is required to achieve this?’. Impact or valorisation is the process of using academic knowledge to create societal or commercial value . To reflect on the next step, all the attendees were divided into two groups to discuss the following questions per research project:
During the meeting ERANID partners learned about the progress and preliminary results of the other ERANID research projects, shared experiences about international research collaborations and linked their research networks. All presenters considered combining both quantitative and qualitative research methods as a strength and necessary to gain insight into a multifaceted problem like illicit drugs. Every research team experienced some challenges working with international partners. It was mentioned that extra time is needed to align research protocols and adjust them to the cultural context of the different partners.
When discussing the next step, the following domains were mentioned as relevant for further implementation of research findings: policy, prevention, early detection, education and science. A few important stakeholders in these domains are: the Ministry of Health, professionals and educators. Involving relevant stakeholders can be accomplished by: informing stakeholder (via websites, flyers etc.), organising stakeholder meetings or inviting stakeholders to help interpret data or help write recommendations. Consequently, involving stakeholders in different phases of the research process helps to make academic knowledge relevant for both policy and practice and, as a result increases societal impact.