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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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    What are the implications of complex systems thinking for policymaking?

What are the implications of complex systems thinking for policymaking?

Can a concept derived from the natural sciences be applied to the political and social sciences? Sarah Quarmby consider whether complex systems thinking, currently enjoying a moment of popularity in the policy research and practice worlds despite having no single accepted definition, can add to our understanding of policy. And is it really a new approach?

Complex systems thinking is […]

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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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    So you want to make an impact? Some practical suggestions for early-career researchers

So you want to make an impact? Some practical suggestions for early-career researchers

One way for researchers to meet the growing requirement to demonstrate that their work has had an impact is by evidencing the degree to which it has influenced public policy. But for many early-career researchers, the practicalities of how to successfully influence policy processes can be elusive, a problem often compounded by job insecurity or by having reputation and […]

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    We need our scientists to build models that frame our policies, not to tell stories that shape them

We need our scientists to build models that frame our policies, not to tell stories that shape them

One of the principal ways in which research can be said to have had an impact on society is when it is judged to have shaped public policy. Storytelling is increasingly presented as an effective way of doing this, with researchers encouraged to construct narratives that point towards a clear “moral”, something to be done. Thomas Basbøll argues that […]

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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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    Mastering the art of the narrative: using stories to shape public policy

Mastering the art of the narrative: using stories to shape public policy

There can be little doubt people believe narratives are important and that crafting, manipulating, or influencing them likely shapes public policy. But how does one actually do this? To Michael D. Jones and Deserai Crow, it starts by understanding the component parts of a narrative and configuring those in a way that maximises your chances of success. Setting the […]

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