The gap between research and policy and practice is well documented. So too is the relative paucity of research undertaken in general practice. Various programmes have been initiated to address these issues in different countries. As an example, the Brisbane International Initiative has been set up to develop a comprehensive curriculum for primary care research training. In order to inform this process, the neglected concept of 'development' was explored theoretically and through a small pilot study. A number of issues and concepts are highlighted that may assist in closing the gap between research and practice. These included the consideration of a range of skills not conventionally included in current research training curricula. It is argued that these 'development' skills are essential in order to enhance the relevance of researchers' contributions in the highly complex and specialised field of primary care practice. A large international study is proposed to validate this skill set.