Start with the right questions 1.What are we trying to achieve? 2.Who are we trying to influence with evidence? 3.What’s already known? What more is needed? 4.What kind of research will be most effective? 5.How should we engage our targets for best effect? NOT 6. I’ve done my research, now how do I get people to listen to my findings?
Timing matters (and shapes research): The Policy Funnel Media and narrative, bearing witness; Messengers not just message General Opinion Public Debate Policy Process Final Decision Concepts /agenda setting Questions /Framing /instrume nts Solutions/ Problems $/ text What Coalition? Power Analysis; PDIA Comparative; implementation gaps Room for manoeuvre falls, relative importance of internal players increases
More on Timing (it really does matter) Enter debates early (agenda setting rather than negotiating final details) –Climate change adaptation big numbers Plan around the political timetable Shocks = Crucial Windows of Opportunity (but a challenge for researchers) –Robin Hood Tax –Climate Change and shocks
TargetEvidence they respond to best PolicymakersBig ideas. Compelling stories. Positive visions. Civil servantsObjective, rigorous, Credible methodology. Data. Technical details. Corporate executivesCompany-specific findings. Credible methodology. CommunitiesCommunity-focused. Generated with their participation. Activists, Public attitudes and beliefs Human face to the story. Killer facts – easy to remember Clear impacts of policy MediaControversial, new. Human face to the story Killer facts with numbers. Who are we trying to influence with evidence?
What’s Already Known? (aka ‘do a quick literature review’) – Focus!
What do we want to know? Beware ‘just add it to the terms of reference’ syndrome. Focus some more!
What is effective for shaping debates? Introducing ‘killer facts’
How to engage targets? BEFORE the research is published –Governance –Interviews and consultation –Review drafts Who do they respect/listen to? Research partners and messengers as important as message Narratives not data They want things to do, not more to read
How to disseminate your findings? Publish drafts and ask for comments Use knowledge intermediaries (esp if you’re no good at talking to normal people) Blogs, 2 page (not 10 page) summaries, and op-eds, not long papers Multi media (infographics, videos, social media) all helps (but decision makers still don’t use it)
How not to engage targets Show off your knowledge Say/imply ‘everything is incredibly complex and context specific, so I spit on you and your generalizations’ Post modern plays on words (an IDS speciality) ‘Needs more Research’ tourette’s
Further Reading on From Poverty to Power Knowledge to Policy (IDRC) book reviewreview Knowledge, Policy and Power in International Development (ODI) Book Review Review How can research funders work better with INGOs? postpost Dos and Don’ts on Research -> policy post post What does the White House want from researchers? postpost