Category: policymaking

More than optimism, institutional reform is needed to improve evidence use in policy and practice

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 analysing […]

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 […]

The academic conference is an underexploited space for stimulating policy impact

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 same […]

Bright spots at the interface of science, policy and practice: the case (and need) for optimism

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 a […]

We need our scientists to build models that frame our policies, not to tell stories that shape them

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 researchers […]

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” […]

Mastering the art of the narrative: using stories to shape public policy

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 stage, […]

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 […]