Evidence-based policy-making can be problematic in practice, especially if the evidence is uncertain. Based on a case study concerning the formation of a national-level policy position in Ireland in response to an EU initiative, Niamh Hardiman and Saliha Metinsoy suggest that policy makers’ decisions may well be guided by beliefs that go beyond the direct evidence available. Ideas can be so deep-rooted that […]
Does evidence still matter? 10 strands of continuity and change in evidence based policy and practice
The concept of evidence based public policy has been well established for over 20 years and unsurprisingly has sustained numerous critiques and criticisms over this period. In this post Annette Boaz, Sandra Nutley, Huw Davies, and Alec Fraser, present findings from a new international review of the evidence based policy paradigm and highlight 10 ways in which […]
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 […]
How games can help us to understand how people make decisions and support policy development that takes better account of field realities
Games are increasingly used in research and development projects, often bringing elements of play into real life in order to deliver insights into decision-making processes. Claude Garcia describes how real life can be taken into the world of games, facilitating players to take better decisions by themselves, and how doing so can support policy development, helping to draft policy […]
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 […]
The perpetual tango: what exactly is “evidence-informed policymaking” premised on and working towards?
Given the field of evidence-informed policymaking has existed for some time, experts’ confusion, knowledge gaps, and inconsistencies around the fundamentals is bewildering. Reporting on a recent Ontario case study, Jacqueline Sohn considers how evidence-informed policymaking works in practice, likening the swift and abrupt movements that eventually lead to policies being developed to a perpetual tango, and reveals how research […]
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 […]
A blueprint for building university-based boundary organisations that achieve impacts on policy and practice
The uptake and integration of scientific research into decision-making processes remains a significant challenge. Many research organisations have begun to experiment with novel institutional structures aimed at enhancing the impact of research on policy and practice. Taking Stockholm University’s Baltic Eye Project as a case study, Marie Löf and Chris Cvitanovic present a blueprint for building university-based boundary organisations, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Studies have shown that while many factors affect decision-makers’ use of research, evidence of what particular engagement actions actually work is very limited. Indeed, increasing access to research appears to be the only intervention to reliably increase use. The Conversation is a free-to-access research communication platform designed to be accessible to general audiences. Pauline Zardo reports on The Conversation […]
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? […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]