The process of translating research into policy has gained considerable attention in recent years and a number of studies have investigated the nexus between the two 'worlds' of research and policy. One issue that has been little addressed is about the boundaries between research and advocacy: how far scientists do, or should, promote particular findings to policy makers and others. This article analyses a particular intervention in malaria control and the Consortium set up to accelerate its potential implementation. Using a framework that emphasizes the interplay of interests, institutions and ideas, it provides an example of how a network of committed researchers and funders attempted to follow a rational policy process, but faced conflicts and fundamental questions about their roles in generating scientific evidence and influencing global health policy. In an era of ever more and larger researcher groups and consortia, the findings offer insights and lessons to those engaged in the process of knowledge translation.
Keywords: ideas; institutions; interests; knowledge translation; research–advocacy–policy interface.