A dissemination planning tool can be a valuable resource for researchers across all stages of a research project.

Its purpose is to prompt and encourage researchers to think of the potential impact of their research findings and construct a formal dissemination plan at the outset to communicate this impact to potential users. This plan should go beyond the traditional methods of publishing in peer-reviewed journals and conference papers.

For example, a dissemination planning tool can help you:

The components of a dissemination plan

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) outlines six major elements to a research dissemination plan [1]. These are summarised here.

  • What is ‘the product’?
  • Which parts of the research project are to be disseminated and to whom?
  • How should messages be crafted to convey value to specific user groups?
  • Is the research actually ready to be implemented?

  • Who are the potential end-users of my research?
  • What do they need and value?
  • Why would my research be of interest to them?
  • Have I considered the formal structures and systems in which my end-users work? (E.g. regulatory pressures, policies and procedures)
  • Can these systems/networks be mobilised to further disseminate the product?
  • What barriers might deter users from implementing change?
  • How can these be mitigated?

  • Who can I engage as dissemination partners?
  • What existing networks–both formal and informal—can I tap into to extend the reach and influence of my message?
  • Can I capitalise on the credibility, expertise, and connectedness of certain opinion leaders or organisations?
  • Have I aligned the message with key organisational goals and values? What would be in it for them?

  • What communication strategies should I use? E.g. published, unpublished materials, education, websites, academic detailing etc.
  • What channels are available to me?
  • How do I anticipate my end-users would seek this information?

  • How will I measure success in meeting my dissemination goals?
  • How will I involve end-users in evaluating the success of the dissemination effort?
  • How will I use their feedback to inform ongoing research or future dissemination activities?


[1] Carpenter D, Nieva V, Albaghal T, et al. Development of a planning tool to guide research dissemination. In: Henriksen K, Battles JB, Marks ES, et al., editors. Advances in patient safety: from research to implementation (Volume 4: Programs, Tools, and Products). Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2005 Feb. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20603/