Creating meaningful narratives for policymakers

Anyone who’s interested in doing policy-relevant research knows that making your findings accessible to information-overloaded policymakers is a challenge.  Duncan Green has written a good summary of a recent paper by Paul Avey and Michael Desch on this topic.  To further summarize Duncan’s points:

  • The more politicians know about a subject, the less they believe “experts”
  • Public visibility (including social media and blogging) is important for credibility
  • However, most policymakers still prefer to get information from major newspapers rather than more specialized (but possibly less credible) online sources
  • The best narrative, and not the best evidence, will win

The takeaway?  “Tell clearer, shorter stories and you may actually be listened to.”

(I also wrote about some of Avey & Desch’s work a few months ago, focusing on the types of academic work that policymakers felt most accessible.)

One thought on “Creating meaningful narratives for policymakers

  1. I also think policymakers prefer their information from folks who give them cash, but that’s the overly cynical view. I agree with the take away, it seems if you can’t write it on one page, nobody’s going to read it. But that’s part of the problem. Everything’s now distilled to an eighteen second sound bite, one page, or 140 characters. This does not lead to a meaningful understanding of the world. But folks who get most of their information from the aforementioned sources, seem to think they know what’s going on, even if they don’t.


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