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Table 1 Differences (in italics) between the work cycles in the three niches.

From: Public health: disconnections between policy, practice and research

  Policy Practice Research
STEP 1
Problem recognition
1. Relevance socially relevant problem, i.e., solving social problems, influenced by political parties practically relevant problem, i.e. corresponding to the public's or client's requests or needs due to problems that are modifiable and tractable scientifically relevant problem, i.e. explaining problems and adding to the body of knowledge based on existing theory
2. Policy agenda setting much influence on agenda setting limited influence on agenda setting, media pressure very limited influence on agenda setting
3. Status bureaucratic status social status high intellectual status
STEP 2
Formulation of policy, practice and research
4. Formal power in policy much influence of small political group on policy formulation sometimes indirect influence on policy formulation usually no influence on policy formulation
5. Goals Insufficient transparency of final goals limited transparency of final goals, restricted to practice sufficient transparency of final goals, but restricted to research
6. Evidence policy-based evidence: legitimacy, acceptability, visibility, immediacy, political salience practice-based evidence: profitability, applicability, feasibility research-based evidence: rationality, empirical validity, logical precision
7. Legitimacy preferred focus on environmental approach, social, physical, economic focus on individual behavioural approach insufficient focus on environmental approach
8. Value of theory and practice theories are partly relevant; practical implementation is relevant theories are irrelevant; practical implementation is relevant theories are relevant; practical implementation is often irrelevant
9. Work attitude work attitude of administrative control and opportunism; some creativity involved firm, action-directed work attitude; 'quick and dirty'; creativity involved cautious work attitude; detailed and time consuming; creativity involved
STEP 3
Implementation of policy, practice and research
10. Adjustments during pilot interim policy adjustments during policy pilot, trial and error approach interim practical adjustments during pilot, trial and error approach no interim adjustments, except for qualitative, responsive research
STEP 4
Policy and practice evaluation and research interpretation
11. Lifespan unpredictable lifespan of work cycle, maximum four years preferably short lifespan of work cycle predictable lifespan, depending on research design and public availability, 4 to 10 years
12. External vs. internal validity need for external validity but policy results often too tentative need for external validity but practical implementation and contextual factors often undefined focus on internal validity, insight in what is effective but not in how it can be made effective in real world setting
13. Public accountability increasing public accountability, mainly financial within own field limited public accountability; mainly financial within own field public accountability by publications in highly authoritative journals within own field