D&R is a term introduced by the National Educational Research Forum (NERF) in 2003 to focus attention on changes needed in educational research; in particular on the need for programmes that connect development with research.
In many sectors the term R&D is used to signify the combination of research with development. The term R&D implies a linkage between theoretical and empirical study on the one hand and direct improvement action on the other. In education, development action (in both national interventions and local activities) is widespread - including development of people, materials systems and services, for example - but is all too rarely linked to research. The phrase D&R has been coined to draw attention to the need sometimes to start with a developmental need and to associate research with it.
Programmes of 'Development and Research' (D&R) combine a managed range of activities, some parallel and others consecutive, that work together and are responsive to unplanned problems and opportunities. Such programmes are iterative in nature allowing progress to be made by enhancing communications between researchers and developers. Research might be related directly to issues thrown up by practical development, and conversely practical development might be informed as it proceeds by emerging findings from research. Designs of this kind contrast with evaluations that stand apart from interventions and report on their efficacy after the event.
NERF encouraged people to consider D&R approaches and a network of interested organisations and individuals was set up in 2004 to share thinking, encourage investment and develop capacity. Subsequently supported by CfBT Education Trust, the network has held workshops, produced guidance and stimulated the creation of D&R programmes, Links to programmes influenced by the D&R approach are provided in this Resource Area. Thinking has been further developed in a 2007 Innovation Unit publication on D&R systems by Tom Bentley and Sarah Gillinson.