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    Dedicated boundary-spanners can support a more effective relationship between science and policy

Dedicated boundary-spanners can support a more effective relationship between science and policy

Boundary-spanning is one approach to creating a more comprehensive and inclusive knowledge exchange process between science and decision-makers. Articulating the views and experiences of a group of fellow boundary-spanners, Chris Cvitanovic explains how the concept has come to be defined and is now being taken up by those tackling highly complex or “wicked” modern-day problems. Boundary-spanners can support a […]

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    It’s not enough for research to be useful to policy actors, we must try to actually influence change

It’s not enough for research to be useful to policy actors, we must try to actually influence change

There is no doubt that good communications and framing research and evidence for your audience is important to influencing policy and having research impact. But shouldn’t we be aiming higher than producing and packaging research that simply meets the demands of policy actors? Surely what we actually want to do is influence change, not reinforce social and political norms? […]

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    “Cutting through”: overcoming the barriers to academic engagement with policy processes

“Cutting through”: overcoming the barriers to academic engagement with policy processes

A lack of access and poor communication are often cited as reasons why academic research is not widely used by policymakers. But what about the challenges for researchers engaging with decision-makers such as parliaments? Lindsay Walker, Lindsey Pike, Marsha Wood and Hannah Durrant have surveyed more than 400 research professionals and identified some clear barriers, with heavy workloads and […]

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    Global Kids Online: designing an impact toolkit for a multi-country project

Global Kids Online: designing an impact toolkit for a multi-country project

For research precisely designed to inform policy and practice, ensuring it has the desired impact is crucial. But tracking impact across many countries and diverse contexts can be difficult. Sonia Livingstone and Mariya Stoilova describe how the Global Kids Online project has built an impact toolkit which draws on recent empirical research with over 12,000 children. The ambition is […]

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    One-way, mutually constitutive, or two autonomous spheres: what is the relationship between research and policy?

One-way, mutually constitutive, or two autonomous spheres: what is the relationship between research and policy?

Academics are increasingly exhorted to ensure their research has policy “impact”. But is this ambition predicated on an overly simplistic understanding of the policy process? Christina Boswell and Katherine Smith set out four different approaches to theorising the relationship between knowledge and policy and consider what each of these suggests about approaches to incentivising and measuring research impact.

Political scientists […]

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    Shorter timeframes, co-designed, with “first-cut” insights: how university policy research can become more responsive to the needs of policymakers

Shorter timeframes, co-designed, with “first-cut” insights: how university policy research can become more responsive to the needs of policymakers

How might universities develop a research agenda that is responsive to the needs of policymakers? After running a series of workshops on public policy innovation with policy practitioners from various levels of government in Australia, Tamas Wells and Emma Blomkamp identified three ways in which policy research might become more “user-centred”: more variety in the timeframes of research projects, […]

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    Analysing Altmetric data on research citations in policy literature – the case of the University of Sheffield

Analysing Altmetric data on research citations in policy literature – the case of the University of Sheffield

One of the sources of attention Altmetric.com tracks is the number of times research outputs have been cited in policy literature. Andy Tattersall and Chris Carroll explored the case of the University of Sheffield and what the data says about the impact of its research on national and international policy. The percentage of outputs with at least one policy […]

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    An emerging iron cage? Understanding the risks of increased use of big data applications in social policy

An emerging iron cage? Understanding the risks of increased use of big data applications in social policy

Big data technologies are increasingly being utilised in the field of social policy. Although big data methods and strategies are often preferred as a form of evidence-based policy development, big data techniques do not necessarily guarantee scientific objectivity. Hamish Robertson and Joanne Travaglia discuss concerns about the rapid growth in big data methods being used to inform and shape […]

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    Five lessons for researchers who want to collaborate with governments and development organisations but avoid the common pitfalls

Five lessons for researchers who want to collaborate with governments and development organisations but avoid the common pitfalls

The appeal of collaborating with a government agency, or an organisation funded by one, seems obvious. It provides researchers with much needed resources and information, while also offering practitioners and policymakers a way of generating the evidence needed to design better programmes. In practice, however, it’s not always easy to make collaborative research work well. Susan Dodsworth and Nic […]

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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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