11 ways for academics to connect with policymakers

How do policymakers access research that’s relevant to their work?  Academic publishing clearly isn’t cutting it.  Very few people outside the academy are going to make the time to check a huge list of academic journals to see when they’ve updated, skim for the handful of articles relevant to their particular interests, then pay US$30 for every article they’d like to read.

In this context, I thought this list of additional ways that researchers can connect with policymakers from Political Violence at a Glance was very interesting.  It discusses alternate channels for sharing policy-relevant research, but also had some insightful points about ways that researchers can change the policy climate more indirectly.  Here’s a short summary.  Check out the original post for more details and examples.

  1. Produce data to be mined by policy makers
  2. Collectively come to overarching lessons about particular problems (N.B. I think lesson #12 from the original post – “academic ideas can open the way for new narratives that can be widely influential in policy circles” – actually falls under this rubric)
  3. Tap research on “cases of” that yield different analogies and thus different policy responses (for instance, how popular revolutions play out yields different potential responses if you think Iran 1979 versus the Philippines 1986)
  4. Delve deeply into a particular area for rich insights into cultures and practices specific to a place
  5. Draw on research for policy advocacy through op-eds or blogs
  6. Create analysis in partnership with policymakers – more likely to happen in a think tank but also among academics that contract with governments specifically to solve policy problems
  7. Develop personal relations with individual policy makers based on long-standing research expertise
  8. Generate timely (and public) analysis of a particular policy sub-issue to put pressure on policy makers.
  9. Developing forums where policy makers and researchers meet, share experiences, and get new ideas
  10. Working with particular government offices to offer academic advice to them – think of the National Intelligence Council
  11. Academic institutions—particularly APSIA schools—train the people that go to work in the policy arena

The closing line is also especially important to keep in mind: “Ultimately, academics must recognize that influencing policy is, in most cases, a long-term process.”

2 thoughts on “11 ways for academics to connect with policymakers

  1. These are great points, Rachel. I would emphasize that points 6 and 7 could/should include working with policymakers to get the (research / eval) questions right from the get-go, which probably will require a lot more conversations and learning about how decision-makers want to use evidence in their priority and policy setting.

    Point 8 could also include making sure that results get out to citizens and more effort to help citizens understand results. In Levine and Savedoff’s recent working paper (http://www.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/CGD-Policy-Paper-Levine-Savedoff-Future-Aid.pdf) they (sometimes) highlight the importance of getting information into citizen and media hands to facilitate accountability and bottom-up pressure.


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