This paper explores the debate about the relationship between educational research and educational policymaking and practice. It considers why the translation of research into practice appears to be limited, and the policy implications that arise from these limitations. In this epistemic setting, aspects of the organisation of educational research in some western countries, and the contrasting position in some transitional countries, are considered. Demands on educational research in both settings, it is argued, are based partly on misunderstandings of what it can achieve. It is important to reach a clearer understanding of the possibilities if the benefits that are available from research are to be realised.