Influencing policy with research can be an effective and rewarding way to bring about change.
Planning policy engagement
Engagement with policy is best considered before a project even begins, in the planning process, through discussions with stakeholders. However, even at the end of a project, you can still plan effective ways of bringing your message to people who can make a difference.
- What message are you communicating and what is your evidence?
- What are the implications for policy change?
Hint: Be concise, understandable and relevant. Prepare a briefing paper with summary and distilled information so misrepresentation is minimized, i.e. try to provide an end product.
- Who in government or amongst opinion leaders can influence the relevant policies, i.e. who are you trying to influence?
- Where are the opportunities for delivering your message?
Hint: Work out the level of pitch required and make the first contact count.
- How can the information best be delivered?
- When is the best time to present it?
Hint: Build on strengths and don’t over cite. Applied and interdisciplinary research are important when addressing policy issues.
Policy engagement tools, guides and training
- Tools for Policy Impact: A Handbook for Researchers (Vitae)
- Tools for Policy Impact: A Handbook for Researchers (Overseas Development Institute)
- Helping researchers become policy entrepreneurs: How to develop engagement strategies for evidence-based policy-making (Overseas Development Institute)
- Communicating research for evidence-based policymaking: A practical guide for researchers in socio-economic sciences and humanities (European Commission)
- Guide to working with policy makers (The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement)
- Methods for Influencing legislators or other policy makers (Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence Against Women and Girls, UN Women)
- Government Knowledge is a leading event provider, specialising in conferences, training workshops, briefings and roundtables on public policy and public sector issues.
Getting involved with policy
- ‘Upstream engagement’ is a type of top-down engagement with the public, facilitated by academics on behalf of government and the industries involved in the development of new technologies. It involves deliberative methods such as focus groups, citizen juries and other forums for in-depth discussions concerning new technologies such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology and climate geoengineering. Further information: Corporate Watch, National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement
- The Industry & Parliament Trust is an independent, non-lobbying and non-partisan charity that provides unique platforms of engagement between Parliament and UK business.
- The Westminster Higher Education Forum aims to provide the premier environment for policymakers in Parliament, Whitehall and government agencies to engage with key stakeholders in timely discussion on higher education policy. These include university and college leaders; academics and other higher education professionals; representatives from students’ unions; businesses and their advisors; interest groups and the voluntary sector; along with commentators and members of the reporting press.
- Parliamentary Outreach spreads awareness of the work, processes and relevance of the institution of Parliament, encouraging greater engagement between the public and the House of Commons and House of Lords. Additional links: UK Parliament, Parliamentary Committees, UK Government, and Non-Departmental Public Bodies (quangos)
- Government Policy Knowledge Briefings Policy Knowledge provides a series of in-depth, policy-led briefings and forums for the public, private and third sectors. With a focus on creating an environment where key issues can be examined and explored, Policy Knowledge brings together key policy makers, shapers and stakeholders involved in public policy to debate and discuss key issues.
- Scottish Parliament. Responding to Scottish government current consultations or committee business is another way that you can get involved. Additional links: Scottish Parliament, Committees, and Scottish Government
- Scotland’s Future Forum was created by the Scottish Parliament to help its Members, along with policy makers, businesses, academics, and the wider community of Scotland, look beyond immediate horizons, to some of the challenges and opportunities we will face in the future. It is non-party political and is setting up placements for academics to sit in Parliament and Members of Parliament to engage with universities. SFF aims to create dialogue between researchers, MSPs and their communities so that current research can be taken into account when policy decisions are being made.
- Fife People’s Panel is a group of volunteers working to improve Fife by giving their opinions and observations on a variety of public issues. Organised by Fife Partnership, the Panel co-ordinates consultation exercises to prevent duplication of effort by organisations and results in higher than normal response rates.
Policy engagement information from research councils
|RCUK||Research Councils UK aims to influence a wide range of policy makers in order to help create a positive environment for future research. We use evidence based information to inform our policies and in turn, use our policies to influence researchers and policy makers.|
|AHRC||Arts & Humanities Research Council has published policy publications advice and guidance, Guidance on planning and demonstrating effective policy engagement, which provides advice to arts and humanities researchers on planning how to engage with policy makers.|
|ESRC||Economic and Social Research Council have sites dedicated to working with the public sector, such as engagement with parliament, government departments and the devolved administrations.|
|MRC||The MRC has played a leading role in critical areas of research and subsequent policy and strategy development, from our public health work on obesity and smoking to the establishment of UK Biobank.|
|NERC||Natural Environment Research Council have published a booklet, Science into Policy: Taking part in the process, that explains key aspects of the UK policy-making process and gives links to some important information sources.|