Background: Conducting research in partnership with stakeholders (e.g. policy-makers, practitioners, organisations, patients) is a promising and popular approach to improving the implementation of research findings in policy and practice. This study aimed to identify the principles, strategies, outcomes and impacts reported in different types of reviews of research partnerships in order to obtain a better understanding of the scope of the research partnership literature.
Methods: This review of reviews is part of a Coordinated Multicenter Team approach to synthesise the research partnership literature with five conceptually linked literature reviews. The main research question was 'What principles, strategies, outcomes and impacts are reported in different types of research partnership approaches?'. We included articles describing a literature review of research partnerships using a systematic search strategy. We used an adapted version of the Revised Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews tool to assess quality. Nine electronic databases were searched from inception to April 2018. Principles, strategies, outcomes and impacts were extracted from the included reviews and analysed using direct content analysis.
Results: We included 86 reviews using terms describing several research partnership approaches (e.g. community-based participatory research, participatory research, integrated knowledge translation). After the analyses, we synthesised 17 overarching principles and 11 overarching strategies and grouped them into one of the following subcategories: relationship between partners; co-production of knowledge; meaningful stakeholder engagement; capacity-building, support and resources; communication process; and ethical issues related to the collaborative research activities. Similarly, we synthesised 20 overarching outcomes and impacts on researchers, stakeholders, the community or society, and the research process.
Conclusions: This review of reviews is the first that presents overarching principles, strategies, outcomes and impacts of research partnerships. This review is unique in scope as we synthesised literature across multiple research areas, involving different stakeholder groups. Our findings can be used as a first step to guide the initiation and maintenance of research partnerships and to create a classification system of the key domains of research partnerships, which may improve reporting consistency in the research partnership literature.
Trial registration: This study is registered via Open Science Framework: https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/GVR7Y.
Keywords: Collaborative research partnerships; Community-based participatory research; Integrated knowledge translation; Knowledge syntheses; Research outcomes and impact; Research principles and strategies; Stakeholder engagement.