Category: policymaking

Think tanks can transform into the standard-setters and arbiters of quality of 21st century policy analysis

In recent years, think tanks have been beset by financial constraints, increased competition, and, more recently, a growing questioning of, and popular dissatisfaction with, the role of the ‘expert’ itself. Marcos Gonzalez Hernando, Diane Stone and Hartwig Pautz examine each of these challenges and find that, at a time of huge over-supply of (occasionally dubious) evidence and policy analysis from […]

Think tanks, evidence and policy: democratic players or clandestine lobbyists?

Depending on your perspective, think tanks either enrich the democratic space by conducting policy research and facilitating public dialogue and debate, or undermine democracy by pushing policies favoured by powerful corporate interests. Till Bruckner explains how Transparify are contributing to debate about think tanks’ role in evidence-based policymaking by assessing their levels of financial transparency. The Transparify report, released today, […]

Book Review: Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Social Sciences: Methods that Matter edited by Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

In Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Social Sciences: Methods that Matter,editors Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans showcase tools through which to generate evidence-based policy insights. Released amidst discussions of a ‘post-truth’ era, this book is recommended to students looking to broaden their understanding of methods for providing meaningful evidence for policy creation, but leaves open the question of how social scientists can […]

‘Rubbing shoulders’: an understanding of networks, relationships and everyday practices is key to parliamentary engagement

Relationships and networks have a big impact on parliamentary engagement. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for those academics looking to work with Parliament as part of disseminating their research. Marc Geddes, Katharine Dommett and Brenton Prosser outline why academics must be able to ‘rub shoulders’ with parliamentary staff, building shared understandings and personal trust which can circumvent common barriers around […]

What does Big Data mean to public affairs research? Understanding the methodological and analytical challenges

The term ‘Big Data’ is often misunderstood or poorly defined, especially in the public sector. Ines Mergel, R. Karl Rethemeyer, and Kimberley R. Isett provide a definition that adequately encompasses the scale, collection processes, and sources of Big Data. However, while recognising its immense potential it is also important to consider the limitations when using Big Data as a policymaking […]

How data does political things: The processes of encoding and decoding data are never neutral.

It is difficult to see the political structure of data, because data maintains a veneer of scientistic objectivity. But data is inherently a form of politics, argues Jeffrey Alan Johnson. Data does not just allocate material things of value, it allocates moral values as well. Data producers encode a state of the world at a given time, which is then […]