Research as a Foundation Strategy

Research represents one of four categories of grantmaking at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the others are demonstrations, training and communications. Yet potential grantees often find the Foundation's thinking about research difficult to grasp. Sometimes it is said that the Foundation is not interested in research and funds only evaluations and policy analysis. Others complain that the Foundation seems to fund only research.

The former vice president of Research and Evaluation at the Foundation, James Knickman, (and himself a recipient of Foundation research funding before he joined the staff), attempts to clarify the Foundation's thinking about research, policy analysis, and evaluation. His chapter provides a conceptual guide to the Foundation's approach to grantmaking in this area.

The chapter begins by setting forth the reasons that the Foundation supports research, policy analysis, and evaluation and explaining what it hopes to gain from its investments in these areas. It then examines the kinds of research the Foundation funds and how decisions on which projects to fund are made, thus providing a road map for researchers on how best to approach the Foundation. Knickman emphasizes that research is funded only if it is seen as advancing the Foundation's goals and objectives in tangible ways. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the pros and cons of the Foundation's approach to research.