Knowledge acquisition and research evidence in autism: researcher and practitioner perspectives and engagement

Sarah J. Carrington, Mirko Uljarević, Alessandra Roberts, Louise J. White, Lynda Morgan, Dawn Wimpory, Christopher Ramsden, Susan R. Leekam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Government policy and national practice guidelines have created an increasing need for autism services to adopt an evidence-based practice approach. However, a gap continues to exist between research evidence and its application. This study investigated the difference between autism researchers and practitioners in their methods of acquiring knowledge.
Methods: In a questionnaire study, 261 practitioners and 422 researchers reported on the methods they use and perceive to be beneficial for increasing research access and knowledge. They also reported on their level of engagement with members of the other professional community.
Results: Researchers and practitioners reported different methods used to access information. Each group, however, had similar overall priorities regarding access to research information. While researchers endorsed the use of academic journals significantly more often than practitioners, both groups included academic journals in their top three choices. The groups differed in the levels of engagement they reported; researchers indicated they were more engaged with practitioners than vice versa.
Conclusions: Comparison of researcher and practitioner preferences led to several recommendations to improve knowledge sharing and translation, including enhancing access to original research publications, facilitating informal networking opportunities and the development of proposals for the inclusion of practitioners throughout the research process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Early online date28 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

Funding: ESRC (RES-189-25-0275 and ES/J02080X/1; and Welsh Government (2012–2014).


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