Category: public policy

Is public accountability possible in algorithmic policymaking? The case for a public watchdog

Despite algorithms becoming an increasingly important tool for policymakers, little is known about how they are used in practice and how they work, even amongst the experts tasked with using them. Drawing on research into the use of algorithmic models in the UK and Dutch governments, Daan Kolkman argues that the inherent complexity of algorithms … Continued

Behavioural science and the response to COVID-19: a missed opportunity?

While the role of behavioural science in the UK’s handling of the pandemic has been criticised, Peter John and Gerry Stoker argue that it is important for governments to try and influence citizens’ behaviour rather than rely on laws that are harder to enforce. They nevertheless explain why a different ‘nudging’ approach ought to have … Continued

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, […]

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 […]

Want to ensure your research influences policy? Advice from a government insider

Among the ways social sciences research can have impact is by influencing public policy. Duncan Green recently attended an event at which this subject was much discussed, with a leading government research analyst offering clear advice on what officials are looking for. Comparative work highlighting a range of possible solutions is valued, as are multidisciplinary approaches. Most useful is demonstrating […]

Policymaking must become more empathetic rather than continuing its current overreliance on economic measures

In many cases policymaking is conducted without engaging with the public. It is economic measures, rather than any official public consultation, that inform monetary policy, for example. But does this contribute to the perception of policymakers as “out of touch”? Emmanuel Lee argues that policymaking must become more empathetic, with aggregate economic measures often failing to accurately reflect the wellbeing […]