The Full SPECTRUM: Developing a Tripartite Partnership between Community, Government and Academia for Collaborative Social Policy Research

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Problem: In Canadian society, public policies guide the development and administration of social services and systems, including the public education system, the justice system, family services, social housing and income support. However, because social services are often planned and implemented in a ‘siloed’ manner, coordination and collaboration across departments, sectors and organisations is sorely lacking. Data and resource constraints may prevent services being evaluated to ensure they meet the needs of the people for whom they are intended. When the needs of individuals are not addressed, the result is poor outcomes and wasted resources across multiple areas. Our Response: In 2018, we formed the SPECTRUM Partnership in response to a recognised need for collaborative cross-sector approaches to strengthening the policies that shape social services and systems in our country. The tripartite SPECTRUM partnership comprises representatives from community organisations, government and academia, and is an entity designed to conduct social policy research and evaluation, incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives and expertise from its members. Guided by community-driven research questions and building on existing data resources, SPECTRUM seeks to address specific knowledge gaps in social programs, services and systems. New research findings are then translated into viable public policy options, in alignment with government priorities, and presented to policy-makers for consideration. Implications: In this practice-based article, we describe the key steps we took to create the SPECTRUM partnership, build our collective capacity for research and evaluation, and transform our research findings into actionable evidence to support sound public policy. We outline four of SPECTRUM’s achievements to date in the hope that the lessons we learned during the development of the partnership may serve as a guide for others aiming to optimise public policy development in a collaborative evidence-based way.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Community
  • Government
  • Knowledge Translation
  • Partnership
  • Research
  • Social Policy


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