The Implementation Research Incubator Looks Back on 2018 and Ahead to 2019

By Rekha Balu, Carolyn Hill

The past year was another active one for implementation research at MDRC. In this post, we highlight some of our activities and preview what’s in store for 2019. We also want to start the new year with a “thank you” to Jennie Kaufman, our MDRC colleague who edits all the Incubator posts. Jennie sharpens our writing and our ideas, and she’s fun to work with.

In the Incubator in 2018, we discussed matters ranging from the nuts and bolts of implementation research to its contributions to program development and expansion. We presented about the Incubator at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) fall research conference and also organized an APPAM roundtable with colleagues from other organizations on implementation research in large-scale, multisite studies. Meanwhile, our colleagues over on Reflections on Methodology and the Evidence First podcast series also covered topics of interest to implementation research: for example, the development of measures of implementation fidelity and the challenges of implementing a career and technical education program in Colorado and youth employment programs in Puerto Rico.


In 2018, implementation research was featured in or informed findings in more than 40 project reports and other publications:

Methods and frameworks

Work and income security

College enrollment and student support

College course placement and development education

Young adults and teens

Elementary and high school

Prekindergarten through early grades

Families and children

Community initiatives

Criminal justice


We’re excited about upcoming Incubator posts planned for 2019:

  • Insights from the implementation research from the 88-site Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation (MIHOPE)

  • Guidance for assessing the rigor of qualitative research

  • Logic models, theories of change, and implementation research

  • Implementation research in multisite studies (reflections from an APPAM 2018 session)

  • Improvement science, implementation science, and implementation research in evidence-building cycles

. . . and more!