There is a wealth of advice and ‘how to’ guides available to academics on the subject of how research can have an impact on policy and practice. In this post Kathryn Oliver and Paul Cairney assess the value of this literature, arguing that unless researchers seek to situate research impact within processes of policymaking and academic knowledge production, this […]
Third mission accomplished? Why are universities bad at engaging with local and regional government and what we can do about it.
Universities are increasingly called upon to engage with local and regional government, namely as part of a ‘third academic mission’, but how effectively do they incentivize academics to do so? Using evidence from her study of the University of Aveiro, Liliana Fonseca explores the barriers that hinder engagement with these institutions and makes recommendations for how universities could expand […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]