The complex, “wicked” problems that afflict contemporary societies pose a significant challenge to those making policy decisions. The work of social scientists can be crucial to understanding the human and social consequences of such decisions, yet little guidance exists to help them bring their influence to bear. Nadine Marshall and Chris Cvitanovic have compiled ten top tips for social […]
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 […]
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 […]
‘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 […]
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 […]
Integrating design thinking into policymaking processes offers great value for citizens and government
Design thinking offers a powerful way to narrow the gap between what governments do and what citizens expect from government. Michael Mintrom and Joannah Luetjens explain how elements of design thinking, having already been successfully applied in social sciences research, are now being combined to produce powerful insights into citizen actions and their interactions with governments, and improve policymaking […]
Providing evidence to policymakers through select committees is a great way for researchers to influence current policy debates. But if you haven’t done it before, the formality of the task may appear daunting. In the third part of a series on giving evidence in Parliament, Patrick Hanley has compiled thoughts and experiences from several LSE academics and reveals tips on what support […]
Providing evidence to policymakers through select committees is a great way for researchers to influence current policy debates. But if you haven’t done it before, the formality of the task may appear daunting. In the second part of a series on giving evidence in Parliament, Patrick Hanley has compiled thoughts and experiences from several LSE academics and reveals their tips on how […]
Policymakers frequently fail to use research evidence in their work. Academia moves too slowly for the policy world and its findings do not translate easily into policy solutions. Using the Department of Health as a case study, Jo Maybin outlines how research most likely has an impact as a result of personal interactions between individual researchers and policymakers. But this can limit the […]
Providing evidence to policymakers through select committees is a great way for researchers to influence current policy debates. But if you haven’t done it before, the formality of the task may appear daunting. Patrick Hanley has compiled thoughts and experiences from several LSE academics with their tips on preparing and giving evidence to policymakers. This is part one of a series on giving […]
Social science at the crossroads: the history of political science in the USA and the evolution of social impact.
What role should social scientists play in society? Louisa Hotson explores the evolution of the social sciences through four periods in the history of political science, each with different implications for how social science makes a difference. These lessons from history encourage us to think more broadly than we have in recent decades about how we define the ‘impact’ of the social […]
The inevitable chaos and unpredictability of politics makes trying to achieve policy change a real challenge. But that doesn’t mean academics should just give up. Drawing from policy analysis and public affairs lessons, James Lloyd recommends six steps to get researchers going in the right direction towards achieving policy change.
Last month I wrote a piece for the LSE Impact blog […]
Social science’s trustworthiness is under threat. In order to save it, argues Chris Sampson, we must shift our focus away from media engagement and towards direct public engagement. We need to communicate the findings of our existing research, but just as important is the potential to learn through engaging with wider groups of people. Everyone ought to be a […]
Redesigning integration: Access to government records is necessary for researchers to identify policy effects.
Especially for complex social issues like migration and integration, there is a pressing need to understand why certain policies work and others do not. Dominik Hangartner argues that when scholars are able to combine credible research designs with linked registry data and state-of-the-art targeted surveys, they have a greater chance of identifying the causal effects of policy parameters on short- […]
The UK’s referendum on remaining in the European Union or leaving it generated an avalanche of campaign information, including hundreds of interventions by social scientists. David Walker casts a sceptical eye over the experience, asking whether the wafer-thin majority for Leave signals a failure of social scientists inputs?
The 2016 Brexit referendum — how was that for a case study […]
Greater than the sum of its parts: How to develop collaborative networks to solve complex social issues.
Many contemporary societal challenges are complex, and span different domains of knowledge and expertise. This is especially true for environmental issues where the need for more holistic thinking is strongly articulated. But just bringing a set of diverse actors into a room does not by itself solve complex problems, argues Örjan Bodin. Solutions are often generated by networks that […]