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Guidebook 34 Communicating the Value of Transportation Research Table 2: Key Audiences for Transportation Research Potential Benefits of Audience Communication Objectives Communication Research Program Ensure continued funding and support. Increases acceptance of the research program Managers Communicate technical aspects of research. across the field. Form partnerships for collaboration or coalitions. Increases the ability to leverage existing resources. Congress, Explain the significance of research. Introduces legislation that benefits the field. Legislators, and Staff Demonstrate benefits to constituency. Increases the potential to gain governmental Link spending to research outcomes. funding for research. Policy Makers Document a real need for research. Implements action recommended by Explain the benefits of the research or program. the research. Demonstrate the success of the program. Adopts new products and processes. Media Publicize the need for research. Increases exposure for the program. Publicize the benefits through success stories. Puts research on public's "radar." Reach a broad audience. Highlights a need for change or benefits of a practice or product. Public Explain research findings in non-technical terms. Creates a better informed public. Show the importance of research to daily life. Creates community-level support for initiatives. Communicating with Research Applying the Communication Process Program Managers Context: Research program managers (your own or When and Why others) are often the "in- Communicate frequently with research program house" decision makers managers; these are often research peers and who either authorize or implementers of products or processes who need reject research proposals to stay current with research trends and findings. or products on an Consistent communication with this audience organizational level. will help your work become an influential and Support from research Communication Process relevant force in the field. Communicating with program managers is research program managers may provide the crucial to gaining widespread acceptance of added benefit of helping to find and establish your research in the field or industry where you relationships with programs whose research goals operate. are similar to your own. By creating coalitions and leveraging resources, these partnerships Strategy: When communicating with research help you advance a common agenda or work program managers, highlight how your toward a shared goal that would be difficult, time- research will help them meet their own research consuming, or costly to accomplish on your own. objectives. Relate projects to the agency's mission and goals, as well as to customer needs. Programs may not have the time or budget to take on entirely new projects, so demonstrating "Consistent communication will help the fit between projects is essential. Effective communication with program managers can also your work become an influential and lead them to adopt your tested methods or relevant force in the field." products, so keeping this audience updated on your findings should be a priority of your communication plan.
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Guidebook 35 Putting It All Together Content: Because research program managers are form of fact sheets and PowerPoint presentations. familiar with the industry, and because they often Finally, make use of the web by including links to decide whether or not to accept your findings those fact sheets, and archive full research reports or adopt your process, you can communicate for easy access by other researchers and program more of the intricate points of your research to managers. them. While the technicalities of study design, the specifications of projects or products, or complex Style: Bulleted summaries of research findings statistical analyses are not appropriate for every are useful, but your document should also audience, they can enhance communication with make complete research reports accessible to research program managers. program managers by including references to any published findings and by listing your Channels: A wide variety of channels may be current contact information in the summary. used to communicate with program research Communication with program managers managers, and many channels will likely be used and research peers is often direct and simultaneously. Face-to-face communication is professional. This is true of both written and oral important to help form relationships and gain communication. Demonstrate your expertise to access to program managers, so connect with program managers, but do so in a way that keeps peers at panels or workshop sessions. Have strong you and your projects accessible to others. summaries of your research prepared in the Adaptive Control Software Lite Case Study Communication with research program managers was important to the implementation of Adaptive Control Software (ACS) Lite. The project, developed by researchers at FHWA/Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, provided a "self-teaching" software system that regulates traffic-signal timing through the use of real-time information obtained throughout the day. It is designed for the existing traffic signals in large cities. Though the software is successful at relieving traffic congestion, it is costly. Based on its understanding of the context and the needs of suburban program managers, the research team was able to offer some program managers the ACS Lite software for free. In return, these industry players would pay half of the development costs for the "bridging" software required to make existing software compatible with ACS Lite. The acceptance of this offer led to the adoption of ACS Lite by communities in Ohio, Texas, and Florida. Researchers have continued to gather data and assess the performance of ACS Lite to communicate the value of the software to other program managers.