• User interactions in strategic research: The example of two UK 'Integrated Urban Drainage Pilots'

      Sharp, Liz (2008)
      According to Lowe and Phillipson (2006) the traditional binary division into `basic¿ and `applied¿ research, have recently been extended to a new category called `strategic¿ research, signifying research which is both inter-disciplinary and interacts with research users. Sharp and Dixon (2007) have argued that there are different level of strategic research, signifying different levels of interaction, resource sharing, and joint development of outputs. Drawing on this understanding, this paper considers two user-oriented `Integrated Urban Drainage¿ pilot projects conducted during 2006-7, in order to consider what insights these `not-quite¿ research projects can yield about the nature of strategic research. The paper finds that the pilots were similar to other inter-disciplinary research projects ¿ except that they were commissioned and partly managed by practitioners. Common dilemmas, for example about the inter-linkages between work packages and about the extent of stakeholder interaction, highlight the increasingly fluid boundaries between the categories of `policy evaluation¿, `policy pilot¿ and `research project¿. The paper concludes that the concepts of `researcher¿ and `research user¿ might be replaced with a more flexible idea about `research stakeholders¿ whose varied interests in projects require a flexible communication strategy to fulfil a range of needs.