I’ve been noticing for some time now how hard it is to find research evidence when you need it. Much of my work is about advocating for music, the arts, or a particular good cause. But although I often know there’s research out there to back up a particular case, I struggle to find it when I need it.

I’ve been thinking about this mostly in relation to evidence about the value and impact of music – in education, health and wellbeing, social inclusion, community development – and in life generally.

It seems that academic research remains largely in the journals and dissemination tools of the academic world, and music organisations’ own research reaches only as far as their marketing budgets will allow (not very).

Occasionally music/arts organisations promote their evidence more widely but inevitably (and quite rightly) it’s targeted to a certain group of people and then lost to others who might find it useful now or in the future. Dr Susan Hallam’s ‘Power of Music’ research is a case in point (try googling: there are lots of links to it, but many different versions and it’s hard to find the original research or the user-friendly summary created for Tune In, the year of music).

It seems as though neither types of evidence are really exploited as fully as they could be, particularly now social networking has changed the face of advocacy communications.

So I’ve been having one of those ‘What if …’ conversations with myself.

What if there was a way to make this research more widely available – or at least links to it – available all in one place online?

I’m planning to do something about this – I think it’ll have to be a labour of love – but before I do, I’d really like to hear from other people who may have an interest or insider knowledge in this area:

* would you find it useful if there was an attractive, easy-to-use website that summarised pieces of research and gave links to original research (or provided downloads where available/permissions gained)?

* is there already a similar site that I don’t know about (I’m aware of http://www.healthysocialcreative.org.uk as I helped set it up and carried out the research; and also http://www.cultureandwellbeing.org.uk)?

* has it already been tried and failed?

* would you be able to help? (ie if you’re a researcher, could you send me links to your research?)

I’d really appreciate your thoughts and views … and please pass this on to any researchers, academics, and music/arts organisations you know of who may have valuable evidence that they want to share more widely.