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    Establishing trust between researchers, government and the public: proposing an integrated process for evidence synthesis and policy development

Establishing trust between researchers, government and the public: proposing an integrated process for evidence synthesis and policy development

The journey from evidence to policy is inevitably complex and frequently becomes divisive as arguments rage about the validity and worth of the evidence presented. This is especially true in the “post-truth” era, where the opinions of experts are viewed with scepticism, opposing views (and evidence) are dismissed as “fake news”, and social media algorithms have fostered an “echo […]

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    Data-driven discrimination: a new challenge for civil society

Data-driven discrimination: a new challenge for civil society

Data-driven technologies have been a transformative force in society. However, while such innovations are often viewed as a positive development, discriminatory biases embedded in these technologies can serve to compound problems for society’s more vulnerable groups. Having recently published a report on automated discrimination in data-driven systems, Jędrzej Niklas and Seeta Peña Gangadharan explain how algorithms discriminate, why this […]

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    Evidence-informed policymaking: does knowledge brokering work?

Evidence-informed policymaking: does knowledge brokering work?

There is an accepted need to bridge the gap between academic research and public policy. Knowledge brokers, individuals or organisations sympathetic to both research and policymaking cultures and able to mediate between the two, represent one way of doing so. Sarah Quarmby takes a look inside a knowledge broker organisation, the Wales Centre for Public Policy, to see how […]

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    Mind the skills gap: creating a data access and reuse competency framework for government departments and organisations

Mind the skills gap: creating a data access and reuse competency framework for government departments and organisations

Having access to the vital data collected by government departments can make a huge difference to the work of researchers in universities and charities. But for these researchers to actually access and be able to reuse this data is an often painstaking process that can take months or even longer. Richard Welpton suggests this process might be made quicker […]

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    For China to realise its research and innovation potential the government may have to place greater trust in the academic community

For China to realise its research and innovation potential the government may have to place greater trust in the academic community

After three decades of being the world’s manufacturing powerhouse, China is now looking to science and technology to drive its economic future. However, a recent study suggests that China’s higher education research environment faces numerous challenges that may hinder the country from realising its research and innovation potential; from the promotion of short-term thinking, to an excessive level of […]

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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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Book Review: A University Education by David Willetts

In A University Education, former Minister of State for Universities and Science (2010-14) David Willetts sets out the changes he fostered during his four-year ministry and his views on what still needs to be transformed, alongside a scholarly appreciation of how the current higher education system and its particularly British (mainly English) features have evolved. In this review, Ron Johnston […]

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    Where are we with responsible metrics? And where might we go next? Reflections from two recent events

Where are we with responsible metrics? And where might we go next? Reflections from two recent events

Widespread scepticism and concern among researchers, universities, representative bodies and learned societies about the broader use of metrics in research assessment and management has led to concerted efforts to promote the “responsible use” of such metrics. But how effectively are UK higher education institutions engaging with this agenda? Lizzie Gadd reflects on two recent responsible metrics-themed events. While it […]

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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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    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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    Adoption of open access is rising – but so too are its costs

Adoption of open access is rising – but so too are its costs

Options available to authors to make their work open access are on the rise. Adoption of open access itself is also rising, and usage of open-access materials is similarly increasing. However, alongside rising access levels another, less positive rise can also be observed: the costs of open access are increasing and at a rate considerably above inflation. Stephen Pinfield […]

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    Engaging with Parliament: what is good Select Committee evidence?

Engaging with Parliament: what is good Select Committee evidence?

One way of trying to make an impact with one’s research is to use it to provide evidence and information to one of Parliament’s Select Committees. Victoria Honour offers some insight into how these committees and their inquiries work, and how academics can engage with them; including practical advice on how to structure and present written evidence, and information […]

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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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    How to start dismantling white privilege in higher education

How to start dismantling white privilege in higher education

Racism is still alive and well in US and UK academia, with many from black and minority ethnic backgrounds less likely to gain access to universities or occupy decision-making roles. Kalwant Bhopal argues that to address this problem requires radical action from universities, which must start by acknowledging the existence of institutional racism and white privilege.

Despite many claims to the […]

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