Cartographers, Conciliators and Catalysts: Understanding the Communicative Roles of Researchers
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A review of case studies from a global, ten-year research project coordinated by the Institute of Development Studies suggests that previous efforts to understand the value of research for promoting social change has underappreciated the contribution of researchers as social actors. Researchers inhabit a complex web of relations, they hold many identities, and they act politically to bring about social change in ways large and small that go beyond what they write in journals or in policy briefs. Through interviews and selfreflection, we explored some of these ways – formal and informal, direct and indirect – that researchers communicate their knowledge. To capture some of the diversity, this article presents a typology of different ‘roles’ that researchers play as communicators. We hope this typology might help to clarify our understanding of research utilisation, and might also provide insight into how to approach research communication in more strategic and creative ways.