This section contains introductory guidance to help new Link Officers get started with their role.
Being a new Link Officer can be an exciting but challenging prospect. To support colleagues who are new to the role, or those who need a refresh, this area contains tools, resources and guidance to get started with Research in Practice.
This includes accessible information on how the Link Officer role works such as encouraging colleagues to create an account, using promotional flyers, and how to launch Research in Practice within your organisation.
Before you get started it is important to familiarise yourself with our website and how it works. Our video provides a brief overview.
The Link Officer role
The Link Officer acts as the vital bridge between Research in Practice and our Partner agencies (our members). Supported by your Account Manager, as Link Officer you will play a key role in promoting the use of evidence-informed practice across your organisation and ensuring you receive maximum value from your partnership with us.
It is usual for Link Officers to be situated in roles where they have a good overview of the needs of an organisation and are able to exercise their enthusiasm for research. Link Officers need to have good links with workforce development and an understanding of practice issues. For local authority Partners, it is important to ensure that the Link Officer has close connections with your Principal Social Worker (PSW).
Part of the Link Officer role involves disseminating information from Research in Practice to relevant staff, including publications, information about upcoming events, the resources available on our website, and opportunities for participation in upcoming Change Projects. Your Account Manager will offer support to your Link Officer around effective dissemination strategies.
An approach that has proved particularly successful for many Partners is to adopt a ‘multi-contact’ model. Here, a team of supporters disseminate and champion in partnership with the Link Officer. These champions can be based across different offices, or may be identified through their role (eg a Safeguarding representative, a Children in Care rep, an Early Help rep, a Workforce Development rep, a commissioning rep etc). This is an excellent way of deepening reach and ensuring that your membership benefits a broad range of services.
If the Link Officer is in a relatively senior role, then it will be important to identify some logistical support. Colleagues in ‘Link Officer Assistant’ roles can assist with dissemination, authorising event bookings and similar tasks.
The Link Officer has access to organisational engagement data to ensure your organisation is making best use of your Partnership. Your Account Manager is on-hand to support you in your role, and resources to support Link Officers.
Research in Practice holds an event for Link Officers across the network every autumn. The two-day Link Officers’ Annual Meeting (LOAM) is an important opportunity for Link Officers to learn from each other, share ideas for promoting evidence-informed practice, and engage with new evidence.
The Link Officer dashboard
Link Officers are provided with their own dashboard where you can manage engagement, event places and your organisations' accounts. Our video provides a brief overview of how to access the dashboard and make the most of its capabilities.
The key to embedding evidence-informed practice effectively is to have the support of staff at every level of the organisation. The Strategic Champion is usually a second tier/senior colleague who can support the Link Officer by promoting the use of evidence-informed practice at a more strategic level.
The professional background of this person is not important – it is far more crucial that they are committed to driving up the use of robust research evidence in planning, delivering and evaluating services. Your Account Manager will link with the Strategic Champion to ensure that we can tailor our offer to your strategic priorities and discuss the most effective strategies for developing a culture of evidence-informed practice throughout your organisation.
Most of our communication will be with the Link Officer. However, we will share copies of relevant resources with your Strategic Champion and will ensure that they are aware of the full benefits of Research in Practice in order to support the work of your Link Officer.
As part of our offer, your Account Manager will be able to provide you with an introduction to our resources. Depending on your membership type, you can view what this may entail by downloading our induction guide.
We also find that it is useful for the Link Officer to provide an internal launch presentation to familiarise staff with the resources and what is available. An adaptable presentation can be downloaded below, alongisde a launch exercise which contains reflective questions to enable colleagues to begin thinking about which resources would be useful for their practice.