What can academics learn from how civil society organisations and NGOs approach policy impact? Julia Himmrich argues that academics have a lot to gain from embracing the practices of long-term advocacy. Advocacy is about establishing relationships and creating a community of experts both in and outside of government who can give informed input on policies. Being more aware of the political aspects of research can help academics understand and re-evaluate their own arguments about the impact of research.
This piece is based on an article written for the Dahrendorf Forum at LSE IDEAS.
Blog by Anne Liddon, Scientific Communications Manager, Newcastle University
When I turned up at the CECAN Evaluation and Complexity workshop this week it was my first day back at work after a holiday in Crete, an experience that I thought might have put me in the right frame of mind. Being the non-scientist in a roomful of scientists often seems like being in a foreign country where I only speak a few words of the language. Sometimes it also feels as though I’m wading through treacle with a paper bag over my head, because I can’t see what’s going on, I keep getting stuck and I don’t know which way to go, then I bump into people I don’t recognise. Finally I find out who they are, (sometimes we have been emailing each other for months) and they feel like old friends after all.
UK social scientists feel a growing pressure to achieve policy change. In reality, this process is more complex than it sounds. James Lloyd looks at six reasons that limit the impact research can have on policy change. None of this should suggest that academic researchers shouldn’t seek to influence policymaking. But more consideration is needed on how best academic evidence can leverage the real-world nature of policymaking.
There has been understandable relief at indications from the government that academic researchers will be exempt from anti-advocacy clauses in research grant contracts. The possibility that academics with publicly funded research grants would not be able to press the government for policy change was clearly unacceptable and anti-democratic.