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    2017 in review: round-up of our top posts on connecting research with policy

2017 in review: round-up of our top posts on connecting research with policy

“Rubbing shoulders”: an understanding of networks, relationships and everyday practices is key to parliamentary engagement
Relationships and networks have a big impact on parliamentary engagement. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for those academics looking to work with Parliament as part of disseminating their research. Marc Geddes, Katharine Dommett and Brenton Prosser outline why academics must be able to “rub shoulders” with parliamentary staff, building shared […]

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    “Context matters”: a framework to help connect knowledge with policy in government institutions

“Context matters”: a framework to help connect knowledge with policy in government institutions

Researchers trying to use the knowledge they’ve produced to inform public policy are often warned of the importance of context to policy decisions. But what exactly does “context” mean? Leandro Echt introduces a new framework that can help researchers develop a better understanding of the various different contexts operating within institutions, and critically identify those points where policy change […]

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    The Social Mobility Commission is dead. So what does this mean for the impacts arising from the social sciences research that informed its reports?

The Social Mobility Commission is dead. So what does this mean for the impacts arising from the social sciences research that informed its reports?

Alan Milburn’s resignation from the Social Mobility Commission likely spells the end for the body that has come to be seen as an exemplar for the use of research evidence in public policy debate. But what happens to the REF potential of the social sciences research that has been cited in the commission’s reports? Can REF panels ignore the […]

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    Policy Fellowships Programme: developing enduring relationships between academia and policymakers

Policy Fellowships Programme: developing enduring relationships between academia and policymakers

Having an impact on policy is an important part of demonstrating the wider contribution of academic work and expertise. The Policy Fellowships Programme was set up as part of a wider commitment to find increased and better ways for scientific expertise and evidence to be considered in public policy. Nicola Buckley and Charlotte Sausman explain the background to the programme, […]

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    Bridging the gap between research and policy: recommendations for social science research in low/middle-income countries

Bridging the gap between research and policy: recommendations for social science research in low/middle-income countries

Connecting research with policy is never easy, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) where resources are often limited. Sarah Morton conducted an impact assessment of a research programme in Peru to examine how research uptake and use contributed to policy and practice change. A number of recommendations arising from this case study can be applied to future research […]

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    Want to ensure your research influences policy? Advice from a government insider

Want to ensure your research influences policy? Advice from a government insider

Among the ways social sciences research can have impact is by influencing public policy. Duncan Green recently attended an event at which this subject was much discussed, with a leading government research analyst offering clear advice on what officials are looking for. Comparative work highlighting a range of possible solutions is valued, as are multidisciplinary approaches. Most useful is […]

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    How funder pressures can torpedo the credibility of research – the cautionary tale of Google and New America

How funder pressures can torpedo the credibility of research – the cautionary tale of Google and New America

With policy recommendations subject to ever greater scrutiny – not only of their viability but also the credibility of their sources of expertise – many think tanks and research institutions invest considerable time and effort into building and nurturing a reputation for research quality and intellectual independence. However, this most valuable asset remains extremely precarious. Till Bruckner recounts the […]

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    Women academics and those from BAME backgrounds engage less with Parliament. But why?

Women academics and those from BAME backgrounds engage less with Parliament. But why?

Despite the current UK Parliament being more diverse than ever, it remains the case that academics who engage with Parliament are somewhat less representative. Women, those based outside London, and those from BAME backgrounds are significantly less likely to give evidence to select committees, for example. Sarah Foxen describes the drive across Parliament to address this problem and improve […]

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    Book Review: The Politics of Evidence: From Evidence-Based Policy to the Good Governance of Evidence by Justin Parkhurst

Book Review: The Politics of Evidence: From Evidence-Based Policy to the Good Governance of Evidence by Justin Parkhurst

In The Politics of Evidence: From Evidence-Based Policy to the Good Governance of Evidence, available open access, Justin Parkhurst provides a detailed synthesis of the debates surrounding evidence-based policy (EBP) as well as a governance framework for managing EBP. This is a comprehensive overview of the advantages and limitations of this approach that offers constructive insight into ensuring the judicious and careful use of […]

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    If academics are serious about research impact they need to learn from monitoring, evaluation and learning teams

If academics are serious about research impact they need to learn from monitoring, evaluation and learning teams

The impact of academic research, particularly on policy and the private sector, is an increasingly important component of research assessment exercises and funding distribution. However, Duncan Green argues that the way many researchers think about their impact continues to be pretty rudimentary. A lack of understanding of who key decision-makers are, a less-than-agile response to real-world events, and difficulties […]

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    A more interdisciplinary approach can help us understand why research evidence does or doesn’t make it into policy

A more interdisciplinary approach can help us understand why research evidence does or doesn’t make it into policy

Effective communication of research is often cited as being most important to gaining the attention of policymakers. This arguably underestimates the sheer complexity of the policymaking process, assuming a linear route from evidence to policy and practice. Fiona Blyth and Carmen Huckel Schneider explain why breaking down walls between different academic disciplines could enhance our understanding of why research […]

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    Gained in translation: adding value to research to inform policy

Gained in translation: adding value to research to inform policy

Within the social sciences, translating and sharing new knowledge is now common practice amongst many researchers and institutions across academia. From evidence briefings and summaries of literature to online blogs and presentations, a wide range of research evidence aims to engage policy and practitioner audiences so they can more easily access and use the evidence. Raj Patel questions whether […]

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    Think tanks can transform into the standard-setters and arbiters of quality of 21st century policy analysis

Think tanks can transform into the standard-setters and arbiters of quality of 21st century policy analysis

In recent years, think tanks have been beset by financial constraints, increased competition, and, more recently, a growing questioning of, and popular dissatisfaction with, the role of the ‘expert’ itself. Marcos Gonzalez Hernando, Diane Stone and Hartwig Pautz examine each of these challenges and find that, at a time of huge over-supply of (occasionally dubious) evidence and policy analysis […]

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    Think tanks, evidence and policy: democratic players or clandestine lobbyists?

Think tanks, evidence and policy: democratic players or clandestine lobbyists?

Depending on your perspective, think tanks either enrich the democratic space by conducting policy research and facilitating public dialogue and debate, or undermine democracy by pushing policies favoured by powerful corporate interests. Till Bruckner explains how Transparify are contributing to debate about think tanks’ role in evidence-based policymaking by assessing their levels of financial transparency. The Transparify report, released […]

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    Book Review: Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Social Sciences: Methods that Matter edited by Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

Book Review: Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Social Sciences: Methods that Matter edited by Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

In Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Social Sciences: Methods that Matter,editors Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans showcase tools through which to generate evidence-based policy insights. Released amidst discussions of a ‘post-truth’ era, this book is recommended to students looking to broaden their understanding of methods for providing meaningful evidence for policy creation, but leaves open the question of how social scientists […]

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    ‘Rubbing shoulders’: an understanding of networks, relationships and everyday practices is key to parliamentary engagement

‘Rubbing shoulders’: an understanding of networks, relationships and everyday practices is key to parliamentary engagement

Relationships and networks have a big impact on parliamentary engagement. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for those academics looking to work with Parliament as part of disseminating their research. Marc Geddes, Katharine Dommett and Brenton Prosser outline why academics must be able to ‘rub shoulders’ with parliamentary staff, building shared understandings and personal trust which can circumvent common barriers […]

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    Oral history as a method to analyse historical and cultural contexts and inform policymaking: the example of the early AIDS epidemic

Oral history as a method to analyse historical and cultural contexts and inform policymaking: the example of the early AIDS epidemic

On this World AIDS Day, Marco Scalvini and Chris Parkes describe how their new oral history project aims to create a new digital archive that will help researchers better understand the early AIDS epidemic and the new model of therapeutic alliance that emerged, in particular. Oral history is an effective research method to explore and analyse the historical and […]

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