Research to Practice: About This Feature Area

Volume I, Issue 2, December 2001

By Jeffrey L. Brudney, Editor

The "Research to Practice" section of e-Volunteerism has three primary goals:

  • Publish research important to the readership.

  • Share relevant research published in other outlets.

  • Involve subscribers and other volunteerism professionals in research.

Publish Research Important to the Readership
The overriding goal of the section is to foster and publish high-quality research on and about volunteerism that is useful and accessible to practitioners. Consistent with the editorial policy of e-Volunteerism, the focus of the section is on research that addresses the topics of volunteers, volunteering, volunteer program management, and all-volunteer group leadership. The section is open to research and commentary on the full range of service-related activities performed in the absence of monetary incentive or compensation, whether or not the writing used to describe these activities refers specifically to "volunteer," "volunteering," and the like. Thus, articles on community service, service learning, advocacy, pro bono publico work, donated professional services, neighborhood organizing, advocacy, time dollars, and so forth are welcome. The activity is crucial, rather than the terms used to describe it. Articles published in the Research to Practice section might address such activities per se, and/or the organization, management, or leadership of the activity.

Articles submitted for publication will be peer-reviewed. The editor and the associate editor of the "Research to Practice" section and the editors of e-Volunteerism constitute the editorial team. As necessary, they may seek the input and judgment of other reviewers. The primary criteria for publication are:

  • Topical focus: The article should center on volunteer activity and/or the organization, management, or leadership of this activity.
  • Quality of the research: The article should evidence awareness of conventional standards of research, such as consideration of the relevant literature and alternative explanations for findings.
  • Usefulness to practitioners: The article should have implications for informing -- or preferably improving -- practice.
  • Accessibility of writing: The article should communicate to a practitioner audience and avoid, insofar as possible, professional jargon or technical language.
  • Novelty or insightfulness: The article should illuminate a topic that could benefit from further inquiry, and/or investigate the subject in a unique way or from a fresh vantage point.

Share Relevant Research Published in Other Outlets
The second goal of the "Research to Practice" section is to share research of interest to subscribers. The section will strive to bring to the attention of the readership research on volunteerism published in other outlets. To accomplish this goal, the editor and associate editor of the section will undertake or commission the following:

  • Reviews of books on volunteerism
  • Summaries or reviews of articles published in other journals
  • Summaries or syntheses of contemporary research on particular topics
  • Publication of abstracts of articles

Involve Subscribers and Other Volunteerism Professionals in Research
The third goal of the "Research to Practice" section is to involve subscribers and other volunteerism professionals in research activities. The perspective of the section is that volunteerism professionals frequently conduct research on the job -- some are just more systematic and self-conscious about it than others -- and that research is a valuable activity for them and the field. It builds knowledge and understanding, contributes to the development of the profession and promotes better practice. Accordingly, the "Research to Practice" section attempts to involve subscribers and other volunteerism professionals in the research process in several ways. The section will endeavor to:

  • Develop a reviewer database of interested subscribers and other volunteerism professionals to participate in the research initiatives of the section, to include preparation of book reviews, article reviews and summaries, and summaries or syntheses of research (see above).

  • Assist subscribers in conducting and publishing their own research.

  • Conduct research by electronic media, for example, web-based surveys that seek the input and attitudes of subscribers.

  • Convene panels of experts to share views and knowledge by electronic media, for example, e-mail on important topics.

Consistent with this editorial philosophy, as a matter of work style, the "Research to Practice" section embraces participation. The editor and the associate editor of the section work collaboratively and encourage subscribers to the journal and other volunteerism professionals to become involved in the research enterprise.

First Article
The first article that represents the type of "user-friendly" material we would like to publish in e-Volunteerism is:

Volunteer Vacationers by Beth Gazely, located in the "Feature Articles" area in this issue.

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Comments

What do you (our readers) want or expect from academic reseachers/research? What can academic research accomplish with respect to generating usable knowledge or ideas that would be helpful to you?

Academic researchers can give subjects the time and depth of focus the practitioners rarely can. Joint work between the two fields can therefore produce sound work that facilitates learning form the past and planning for the future.

On what topics would you most like to see further research? Do you feel certain topics over-researched, while others are desperately in need of further research? Which?

Working with volunteers in fundraising, I would welcome more work on the link between giving time and giving money.

What are the greatest obstacles to you in making use of academic research? For example: lack of knowledge of where to find articles; frustrations with jargon, statistics, writing style; simple lack of time; etc.?

All the issues listed (lack of knowledge of where to find articles; frustrations with jargon, statistics, writing style; simple lack of time)are indeed problems. My personal issues would be the length of research papers and overuse of resaerch/statistical jargon.

What, if anything, might be done to correct these problems?

Close collaboration between those conducting the research and those who would be the customers ie the target readership. This would ensure the finished work is tailored to meet their needs whilst remaining robust as a piece of research.

Share with us any comments/suggestions you have about this section.

To dialogue openly about these questions, please contribute publicly. However, you are welcome to contact to the editor privately at jbrudney@arches.uga.edu. He would also be happy to hear from anyone with an interest in writing a research-based article for e-Volunteerism.

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