An Organizational Guide to Building Health Services Research Capacity

Step 4: Communicating and Reporting


Step 4 will focus on communicating with and reporting research to three primary stakeholders: funding agencies, health services research professionals, and the community (public). Each is an important stakeholder; each is an important audience for your research findings.


Communicating with a Funding Agency

Communicating with a funding agency is important and can result in:

  • Information about research and funding opportunities.
  • Information about relevant conferences, webinars.
  • Technical input and advice.
  • Practical advice about dealing with administrative requirements and reports.
  • Guidance and advice about preparing future solicitations.

Project Progress

Regularly provide updates on the progress of your initiative, program, or project. Plan for and collect information for the annual progress report.

  • Begin planning at the outset of your initiative on how you will monitor and collect information for the annual report.
  • Before the annual report is due, be sure that you are clear on the expectations and format for the annual report.
  • Consider asking a colleague or your funding agency to share exemplary progress reports that may serve as a model for your report.


It is important to be aware of and monitor the status of the budget throughout the project period. Identify and develop a working relationship with the financial/business office at your institution. Keep abreast of the following elements:

  • Total amount spent.
  • Amount spent by project or task.
  • Labor hours and costs expended for each staff member.
  • Other direct costs expended, such as consultant fees and supplies, broken down by type.
  • Percentage of total budget remaining.
  • Percentage of time remaining on the grant or contract.

Methods for Communicating

When possible, funding administrators suggest face-to-face meetings. Plan to have face-to-face meetings with staff when they are going to be at the same conferences or workshops. Although face-to-face meetings are preferred, they often aren't possible because of distance and funding constraints. Use other means to stay in contact, such as video conferences, teleconferences, and email.


Scheduling communication should be done to fit the requests and preferred style of the funding agency: Do they prefer to meet on an unscheduled, as-needed basis or to hold meetings by a defined schedule? Adjust the frequency of communication based on needs and the level of activity on the project.

Other Communication Options

If possible, engage in opportunities to communicate during site visits and PI meetings. Site visits consist of project officers visiting funded institutions or States and usually involve interaction with project staff at multiple levels. Meetings with PIs involve gathering all of the currently funded PIs from a particular program to facilitate networking and information exchange. PI meetings can be in-person or by teleconference.

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Communicating with Health Services Research Professionals

In research, publications and presentations are a major metric for assessing how successful you and your organization are. Publishing in peer-reviewed journals will bring positive attention to your organization and showcase your staff's research abilities. Go to Figure 6 for a list of leading health services research publications. Presentations at conferences will allow you the opportunity to get feedback on your research and network with others in your field. Presentations are often the basis of journal articles. Conferences also give you exposure to funding agencies that sponsor the type of work you do.

Engender success by establishing clear expectations for publishing and conference presentations from staff. Given the advanced planning required for getting publications and conference abstracts accepted, it is advantageous to allocate sufficient time and resources to the activity. To maximize success and the quality of presentations and publications, consider using some of the technical research center support staff. Technical writers, biostatisticians, mentors, and advisory group members can all assist in the development of materials for submission.


Figure 6. Leading health services research publications

Leading journals for health services research
  • American Journal of Public Health
  • Health Affairs
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Research
  • International Journal of Health Sciences
  • Inquiry
  • Journal of the American Medical Association
  • Journal of Health Economics
  • Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law
  • Medical Care
  • Medical Care Research and Review
  • Milbank Quarterly
  • New England Journal of Medicine
  • Social Science and Medicine

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Sharing Findings with the Community

Translating your research into practice and policies that benefit the community is the ultimate goal of most health services research. This requires communication to stakeholders, such as providers, patients, and policymakers. Various media sources can be effective, such as web sites, blogs, and social media networks; newspaper articles and editorials; mailings; radio; and television. Presentations at town hall-style meetings also may be appropriate. Sharing your research can garner community support. Communication specialists can provide you with necessary guidance.

Maximizing Success

How you choose to communicate with funding agencies, the research community, and the community as a whole will vary. What is most important is that you are communicating with all of these audiences. Be open to varied methods to reach each audience.

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Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created October 2011
Internet Citation: Step 4: Communicating and Reporting. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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