Postprint of: Black, R & Weiler, B 2008, 'Factors facilitating and inhibiting the use of research to inform interpretation practice: a case study of Australian protected area management agencies', Visitor Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 163-180.
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Interpretation research can be and is used to inform and improve interpretation policymaking and planning undertaken by practitioners such as those who work for Australian protected area management (PAM) agencies. This study explores perceptions of the extent to which interpretation research is undertaken and used by these agencies, and the facilitators and constraints to doing so. In-depth telephone interviews were conducted with senior interpretation planners and managers in all Australian PAM agencies. The findings indicate that interpretation research is usually prompted by a crisis or a short-term need such as a specific project and that most research is site-specific and content-focused, while respondents see a need for more longitudinal and evaluation-focused research. Two-thirds of the respondents reported that their agency made poor or no use of research findings for improving interpretation practice. Stated barriers to undertaking and using research included lack of funding, lack of time and that research was not considered an agency priority. Underpinning these were perceptions consistent with diffusion of innovation theory (e.g., that doing or using research is perceived as being too complex, not compatible with agency goals or not offering relative advantage). Strategies for removing these perceptual barriers to undertaking and using interpretation research and research findings are presented.