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    2018 in review: round-up of our top posts on connecting research with policy

2018 in review: round-up of our top posts on connecting research with policy

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 […]

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The A to Z of writing an impact case study

With submission to REF 2021 now less than two years away, university staff and academics are stepping up work to present their best examples of research impact in the form of compelling impact case studies. In thinking about how to approach writing these documents, Sally Brown has compiled this useful A to Z; from understanding your impact aim, all […]

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Let’s focus on the research process, not the outputs

The outsized importance of publications has meant too many research students focus on featuring papers in prestigous journals, despite having success in doing so feeling like something of a lottery. To Mattias Björnmalm, a strong focus on the research output instead of the research process is detrimental to research itself. Research is about increasing our understanding of the world […]

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    Greater than the sum of its parts: why the GCRF Interdisciplinary Research Hubs should adopt a programme approach to research design and management

Greater than the sum of its parts: why the GCRF Interdisciplinary Research Hubs should adopt a programme approach to research design and management

Awards for the GCRF Interdisciplinary Research Hubs will soon be announced. Each of these Hubs will inevitably have to balance the different imperatives of research excellence, development impact, and collaborative processes. To improve their chances of being successful in doing so, Valeria Izzi and Becky Murray suggest that each Hub must set out with the explicit intention of being […]

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    Less than 5% of papers on the use of research in health policymaking tested interventions to see what worked. But those studies reveal a number of strategies for improvement

Less than 5% of papers on the use of research in health policymaking tested interventions to see what worked. But those studies reveal a number of strategies for improvement

Population health policies stand a much better chance of succeeding if they’re informed by research evidence. But what are the best ways of making sure this happens? Danielle Campbell and Gabriel Moore conducted a rapid review of the literature on the subject and found that very few studies actually concerned testing interventions to see whether they worked. Those articles […]

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    Can we have it all? Navigating trade-offs between research excellence, development impact, and collaborative research processes

Can we have it all? Navigating trade-offs between research excellence, development impact, and collaborative research processes

The “gold standard” of impactful international development research involves equitable north-south partnership, interdisciplinary collaboration, and co-production with non-academic actors, ideally including local communities. Such participatory and collaborative approaches are intended to have longer-term benefits, strengthening capacity for research, innovation, and knowledge exchange. Admirable though this may sound, it’s easy to see how it might appear overwhelming to researchers expected […]

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    More than optimism, institutional reform is needed to improve evidence use in policy and practice

More than optimism, institutional reform is needed to improve evidence use in policy and practice

While optimism can inspire efforts to connect the spheres of science, policy, and practice, it does little to remove the real boundaries between them. Systematic investigation of “bright spots” – or success stories – would likely yield some interesting learning points but, as David Christian Rose suggests, it may be unwise to cherry-pick evidence of what works by only […]

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    The academic conference is an underexploited space for stimulating policy impact

The academic conference is an underexploited space for stimulating policy impact

Despite often having an explicit policy focus, many academic conferences fail to produce policy briefs or even promote papers that are accessible to those working in policy. Sarah Foxen highlights the rich potential of academic conferences as fantastic sites at which to stimulate and facilitate policy impact, collecting all the academic and policy experts on a topic together in the […]

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    Bright spots at the interface of science, policy and practice: the case (and need) for optimism

Bright spots at the interface of science, policy and practice: the case (and need) for optimism

Achieving tangible impacts on policy and practice is not easy. But it’s made even harder by starting with a pessimistic outlook. Much of the academic discourse around the interface of science, policy, and practice has become dominated by negative language such as the science-policy “gap”, or “challenges” and “barriers” that must be overcome. Chris Cvitanovic makes the case for […]

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    Doing research for (and not on) development: some important questions for the Global Challenges Research Fund

Doing research for (and not on) development: some important questions for the Global Challenges Research Fund

The Global Challenges Research Fund has an impressively wide-ranging research agenda, covering a range of development issues. But as well as funding research on development, Ajoy Datta argues the fund should promote understanding of how to undertake research for development too. This requires academics to have specific skills and experience of working effectively with colleagues and partners in the […]

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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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    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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    Measuring knowledge exchange – the road to societal impact?

Measuring knowledge exchange – the road to societal impact?

Given the well-known difficulties of measuring the full impact of universities, it may be better to focus instead on knowledge exchange, the process by which the societal impact of scientific knowledge is realised. For Frank Zwetsloot and Anika Duut van Goor, “contract income” – the financial investments made by external parties in contract research, contract education, patents or start-ups […]

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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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This work by LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.