Is operational research delivering the goods? The journey to success in low-income countries

R. Zachariah, N. Ford, D. Maher, K. Bissell, R. Van den Bergh, W. van den Boogaard, T. Reid, K.G. Castro, B. Draguez, J. von Schreeb, J. Chakaya, R. Atun, C. Lienhart, D.A. Enarson, A.D. Harries

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Operational research in low-income countries has a key role in filling the gap between what we know from research and what we do with that knowledge-the so-called know-do gap, or implementation gap. Planned research that does not tangibly affect policies and practices is ineffective and wasteful, especially in settings where resources are scarce and disease burden is high. Clear parameters are urgently needed to measure and judge the success of operational research. We define operational research and its relation with policy and practice, identify why operational research might fail to affect policy and practice, and offer possible solutions to address these shortcomings. We also propose measures of success for operational research. Adoption and use of these measures could help to ensure that operational research better changes policy and practice and improves health-care delivery and disease programmes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLancet Infectious Diseases
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)415-421
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Operational research
  • Control programs
  • Policy
  • Methods
  • Surveys
  • Partners
  • NGOs
  • International collaboration
  • Donors
  • Universities
  • Implementation
  • Dissemination
  • Publications
  • Accessibility
  • Knowledge
  • Peer review
  • Open access
  • Monitoring
  • Surveillance system
  • Developing countries


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