Category: Government

What are the implications of complex systems thinking for policymaking?

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 […]

Establishing trust between researchers, government and the public: proposing an integrated process for evidence synthesis and policy development

The journey from evidence to policy is inevitably complex and frequently becomes divisive as arguments rage about the validity and worth of the evidence presented. This is especially true in the “post-truth” era, where the opinions of experts are viewed with scepticism, opposing views (and evidence) are dismissed as “fake news”, and social media algorithms have fostered an “echo chamber” […]

Data-driven discrimination: a new challenge for civil society

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 raises […]

Evidence-informed policymaking: does knowledge brokering work?

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 its […]

Mind the skills gap: creating a data access and reuse competency framework for government departments and organisations

Having access to the vital data collected by government departments can make a huge difference to the work of researchers in universities and charities. But for these researchers to actually access and be able to reuse this data is an often painstaking process that can take months or even longer. Richard Welpton suggests this process might be made quicker and […]

For China to realise its research and innovation potential the government may have to place greater trust in the academic community

After three decades of being the world’s manufacturing powerhouse, China is now looking to science and technology to drive its economic future. However, a recent study suggests that China’s higher education research environment faces numerous challenges that may hinder the country from realising its research and innovation potential; from the promotion of short-term thinking, to an excessive level of bureaucratic […]

“Cutting through”: overcoming the barriers to academic engagement with policy processes

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 a […]

Book Review: A University Education by David Willetts

In A University Education, former Minister of State for Universities and Science (2010-14) David Willetts sets out the changes he fostered during his four-year ministry and his views on what still needs to be transformed, alongside a scholarly appreciation of how the current higher education system and its particularly British (mainly English) features have evolved. In this review, Ron Johnston critically […]