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AERC POLICY BRIEF
Research and Policy Processes
of research to policy
processes, and the role of
Policy Briefs in this process
TO PRODUCE an outline policy brief for each research
project, to be finalised after the workshop
TO BUILD CAPACITY AND
SKILLS in communicating
research to maximise uptake
• Research communications & policy process
• Understanding audiences
• Crafting effective messages
• Policy briefs structure and form
• Social media for research
“Success depends on knowing what works”
Bill Gates, (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($33.5bn 2009)
“In development research, to get a new discovery
into policy and practice is just as important as the
Maureen O’Neil, President and CEO International Development
Donor countries spend over US$2bn annually on
development research and are increasingly asking
the question: “Is this value for money?”
RAPID Programme, 2003
WHY COMMUNICATING RESEARCH MATTERS?
THE ONGOING MYSTERY OF GETTING RESEARCH INTO USE
THE LINEAR MODEL
Research report on
results of research
report disseminated at
Relevant policy changed
to reflect research
Fig 3: a systems model of evidence and policy
A SYSTEMS MODEL
POLICY PROCESSES ARE...
Source: Cartright and Hardie;
‘Evidence-Based Policy: a
Guide to doing it better’, 2012
Choice of Goals
Costs & Benefits
Known - simple
Cause and effect is known:
best practice guidance can
Domain of yes / no
answers to questions
Do you think the policy outcome is...
Issues are ‘knowable’ and can be
researched: cause and effect can
be established. Domain of
expert knowledge, questions can
be answered with the right
Knowable - researchable
Issues are chaotic – new
evidence causes confusion
rather than clarifies. No
cause and effect can be seen.
Cause and effect can only be
seen in retrospect and do not
repeat. Nobody is ‘the
expert’: we’re not even sure
we have the right question,
never mind the answer.
STRUCTURING POLICY ISSUES
Adapted from the Cynefin
framework. See Shaxson, L (2009)
Structuring policy problems for
plastics, the environment and
human health: reflections from the
UK. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 364,
2141-2151. doi: 10.1098/rstb.
1. Discursive changes: These refer to changes in the labels or narratives
of policy actors. They reflect a new or improved understanding of a subject --
even if it does not imply an effective change of policy or practice.
2. Procedural changes: changes in the way certain processes are
undertaken e.g. the incorporation of consultations to closed processes, or
small changes in the way that national policies are implemented in the field.
3. Content changes: changes in the content of policies including
strategy papers, legislation and budgets. These are formal changes in the
4. Attitudinal changes: changes in the way policy actors think about a
given issue. This is important where key stakeholders have high influence but
lack interest in a policy area or are not necessarily aligned with the policy
objectives of the programme.
5. Behavioural changes: These refer to more durable changes in the
way that policy actors behave (act or relate to others) as a consequence of
formal and informal changes in discourse, process and content.
MANAGING THE ENABLING ENVIRONMENT
Systematic mapping of
the political context is
necessary to improve the
success of knowledge-
Understanding the role
and behaviour of actors
is important (i.e.
interplay of actor
interests, values and
credibility and the power
relations that underpin
Research needs to be
complemented by other
forms of knowledge,
based on local conditions
and practical experience.
intermediary’s’ needs to
think through a range of
possible approaches to
ensure their role is
effective (i.e. theory of
HE ODI RAPID FRAMEWORK
ENCOURAGES structured questions about the
context, actors, prevailing narratives and extent
of evidence use.
EMPHASISES importance of ‘policy windows’
and building up influence within the policy
HIGHLIGHTS all the other factors besides
quality of research.
PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE
need to know
need to do
How to do it
• Who are the policymakers?
• Is there demand for ideas?
• What is the policy process?
• What is the current theory?
• What are the narratives?
• How divergent is it?
• Who are the stakeholders?
• What networks exist?
• Who are the connectors,
mavens and salesmen?
• Get to know the policymakers.
• Identify friends and foes.
• Prepare for policy
• Look out for policy windows.
• Work with them – seek
• Strategic opportunism –
prepare for known events
+ resources for others
• Establish credibility
• Provide practical solutions
• Establish legitimacy.
• Present clear options
• Use familiar narratives.
• Build a reputation
• Pilot projects to generate
• Good communication
• Get to know the others
• Work through existing
• Build coalitions.
• Build new policy networks.
• Build partnerships.
• Identify key networkers,
mavens and salesmen.
• Use informal contacts
are aware of
act on the
adhere to the
BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO
“But this is the simplified version for the general public…”
START WITH WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE NEEDS TO
KNOW….NOT WHAT YOU WANT TO TELL
Source: IFPRI food policy guide 2005
• reception means that research has been received by an individual lands on the desk, but the findings might never be read.
• The next stage occurs when research is read and understood
• When research changes way of thinking – provokes a shift in an individual’s“frame of reference”, for example in terms of defining key problems and priorities
• Research has shaped action: some effort has been made to get the findings adopted, even if this is ultimately unsuccessful.
• Adoption means that research has had a direct influence on the actual policy
• While research may have been used to develop policy, at this stage it has also been translated into practice on the ground
• Utilisation of research when the implemented policy is successful in producing tangible benefits to the citizens.
BE PRACTICAL ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE..
Source: Adapted from Knott and Widavsky 1980 and
Glasziou and Haynes 2005 adapted in Nutley, Walter and
Presentation at the AERC Policy Briefs workshop - Addis Ababa, December 2015