This is a background paper for the workshop on Improving the impact of development research through better research communication and uptake, being held in London on November 29 and 30, 2010. The paper draws upon and synthesises a number of documents on this topic produced for DFID, as well as other documentation and events of recent interest.The purpose of this background paper is to briefly outline some of the different languages and models that are used, to draw from some recent case studies and reports on research communication and uptake, and to identify the main questions that need to be answered so that everyone begins to share a common understanding of how to make progress. The paper is designed to be generally relevant to all who have an interest in improving the impact of development research on policy and practice: policymakers, parliamentarians, civil society organisations, the private sector, think tanks, researchers, research communicators and other intermediaries.The paper begins with a brief review of the different terms that are in use, before drawing from the developed and developing world literature to outline various models that have been proposed to improve the impact of research on policymaking. Having briefly reviewed the various models, the paper identifies a series of questions the workshop will address. The final section reviews some even more recent discussions on the roles and functions of knowledge intermediaries; a group of people and organisations which are increasingly seen as important contributors to improving the impact of research.