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Tools to Promote the Use of Research-Based Evidence in Policy

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1 Tools to Promote the Use of Research-Based Evidence in Policy
ODI / INASP Research-Policy Symposium, Oxford, 16th/17th Nov 2006 John Young

2 Overview Definitions Policy processes
Researchers, Policy Makers & NGOs Some theory A useful framework? How to do it Some examples Further information

3 Definitions Research: “any systematic effort to increase the stock of knowledge” Policy: a “purposive course of action followed by an actor or set of actors” Evidence: “the available information supporting or otherwise a belief or proposition” Evidence-based Policy: “public policy informed by rigorously established evidence”.

4 Policy Processes Identify the problem Commission research
Analyse the results Choose the best option Establish the policy Implement the policy Evaluation

5 Monitoring and Evaluation Policy Implementation
Policy Processes Cabinet Donors Monitoring and Evaluation Agenda Setting Decision Making Policy Implementation Policy Formulation Parliament Civil Society Ministries Private Sector

6 Chronic Poverty in Uganda
Kate Bird et al, Fracture Points in Social Policies for Chronic Poverty Reduction, ODI WP242, 2004 (

7 …in reality… “The whole life of policy is a chaos of purposes and accidents. It is not at all a matter of the rational implementation of the so-called decisions through selected strategies 1” “Most policy research on African agriculture is irrelevant to agricultural and overall economic policy in Africa2” “Research is more often regarded as the opposite of action rather than a response to ignorance”3 1 Clay & Schaffer (1984), Room for Manoeuvre; An Exploration of Public Policy in Agricultural and Rural Development, Heineman Educational Books, London 2 Omamo (2003), Policy Research on African Agriculture: Trends, Gaps, and Challenges, International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) Research Report No 21 3 Surr (2003), DFID Research Review

8 But Policy makers are… …practically incapable of using research-based evidence because of the 5 Ss… Speed Superficiality Spin Secrecy Scientific Ignorance Vincent Cable – Lib. Democrat MP & Shadow Minister of Finance More at:

9 Factors influencing policy making
Experience & Expertise Pragmatics & Contingencies Judgement Evidence Lobbyists & Pressure Groups Resources Habits & Tradition Values and Policy Context Source: Phil Davies Impact to Insight Meeting, ODI, 2005

10 Different Notions of Evidence
‘Scientific’ (Context free) Proven empirically Theoretically driven As long as it takes Caveats and qualifications Researchers’ Evidence Colloquial (Contextual) Anything that seems reasonable Policy relevant Timely Clear Message Policy Makers’ Evidence Source: Phil Davies Impact to Insight Meeting, ODI, 2005

11 How CSOs influence Policy

12 Obstacles for CSO Research

13 Key problems and solutions
External Difficult Political Contexts Campaigns Boomerangs Policy Pilots Internal Weak understanding of political contexts Rigorous context assessments Weak engagement Better strategies for engagement at all parts of the policy cycle Inadequate use of evidence Collecting the right evidence for each situation (qualitative vs quantitative etc) Weak communication Better communication: publications, events, face-to-face Isolation Collaboration with other CSOs, donors and government agencies: Networks Capacity constraints “Systemic” capacity-building: of organisations and networks within their contexts

14 Existing theory X Linear model Percolation model, Weiss
Tipping point model, Gladwell ‘Context, evidence, links’ framework, ODI Policy narratives, Roe Systems model (NSI) External forces, Lindquist ‘Room for manoeuvre’, Clay & Schaffer ‘Street level bureaucrats’, Lipsky Policy as social experiments, Rondinelli Policy Streams & Windows, Kingdon Disjointed incrementalism, Lindquist The ‘tipping point’, Gladwell Crisis model, Kuhn ‘Framework of possible thought’, Chomsky Variables for Credibility, Beach The source is as important as content, Gladwell Linear model of communication, Shannon Interactive model, Simple and surprising stories, Communication Theory Provide solutions, Marketing I Find the right packaging, Marketing II Elicit a response, Kottler Translation of technology, Volkow Epistemic communities Policy communities Advocacy coalitions etc, Pross Negotiation through networks, Sebattier Shadow networks, Klickert Chains of accountability, Fine Communication for social change, Rockefeller Wheels and webs, Chapman & Fisher

15 Existing theory – a short list
Policy narratives, Roe Systems of Innovation Model, (NSI) ‘Room for manoeuvre’, Clay & Schaffer ‘Street level bureaucrats’, Lipsky Policy as social experiments, Rondene Policy streams and policy windows, Kingdon Disjointed Incrementalism, Lindblom Social Epidemics, Gladwell The RAPID Framework

16 An Analytical Framework
External Influences Socio-economic and cultural influences, donor policies etc The political context – political and economic structures and processes, culture, institutional pressures, incremental vs radical change etc. The links between policy and research communities – networks, relationships, power, competing discourses, trust, knowledge etc. The evidence – credibility, the degree it challenges received wisdom, research approaches and methodology, simplicity of the message, how it is packaged etc

17 Case Studies Detailed: Summary Sustainable Livelihoods
Poverty Reductions Strategy Processes Ethical Principles in Humanitarian Aid Animal Health Care in Kenya Dairy Policy in Kenya Plant Genetic Resources Summary GDN x 50 CSPP x 20 Good news case studies x 5 Mental health in the UK

18 Animal Healthcare in Kenya
1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s Professionalisation of Public Services. Structural Adjustment → collapse of services. Paravet projects emerge. ITDG projects. Privatisation. ITDG Paravet network. Rapid spread in North. KVB letter (January 1998). Multistakeholder WSs → new policies. Still not approved / passed! Professionalisation of Public Services. Structural Adjustment Privatisation ITDG Paravet network and change of DVS. KVB letter (January 1998). Multistakeholder WSs → new policies. International Research ITDG projects – collaborative research. The Hubl Study Dr Kajume

19 A Practical Framework External Influences political context evidence
Politics and Policymaking Campaigning, Lobbying Policy analysis, & research Media, Advocacy, Networking Scientific information exchange & validation Research, learning & thinking evidence links

20 The Key Questions The external environment: Who are the key actors?
What is their agenda? How do they influence the political context? The evidence: Is it there? Is it relevant? Is it practically useful? Are the concepts new? Does it need re-packaging? The political context: Is there political interest in change? Is there room for manoeuvre? How do they perceive the problem? Links: Who are the key actors? Are there existing networks? How best to transfer the information? The media? Campaigns?

21 What you need to do What you need to know What you need to do
How to do it Political Context: Evidence Links Get to know the policymakers. Identify friends and foes. Prepare for policy opportunities. Look out for policy windows. Work with them – seek commissions Strategic opportunism – prepare for known events + resources for others Who are the policymakers? Is there demand for ideas? What is the policy process? Build a reputation Action-research Pilot projects to generate legitimacy Good communication Establish credibility Provide practical solutions Establish legitimacy. Present clear options Use familiar narratives. What is the current theory? What are the narratives? How divergent is it? Get to know the others Work through existing networks. Build coalitions. Build new policy networks. Build partnerships. Identify key networkers, mavens and salesmen. Use informal contacts Who are the stakeholders? What networks exist? Who are the connectors, mavens and salesmen?

22 Policy entrepreneurs Storytellers Networkers Engineers Fixers

23 Policy Engagement Tools
Overarching Tools - The RAPID Framework - Using the Framework - The Entrepreneurship Questionnaire Context Assessment Tools - Stakeholder Analysis - Forcefield Analysis - Writeshops - Policy Mapping - Political Context Mapping Communication Tools - Communications Strategy - SWOT analysis - Message Design - Making use of the media Research Tools - Case Studies - Episode Studies - Surveys - Bibliometric Analysis - Focus Group Discussion Policy Influence Tools - Influence Mapping & Power Mapping - Lobbying and Advocacy - Campaigning: A Simple Guide - Competency self-assessment

24 Groundwater in India to maximise impact of DFID forest/ ground water research project in India Researchers, policy makers and activists Used framework to analyse factors in water sector in India Developed strategy for final phase: Less research More communication Developing champions in regional and national government Local, Regional & National advocacy campaign

25 SMEPOL Project Egypt Policy Process Mapping RAPID Framework
Stakeholder Analysis Force-Field Analysis SWOT Action Planning

26 Policy Processes in DFID
Looking at internal policy processes – what works in DFID. Small, informal workshop with 7 staff. Participatory pair-wise ranking of factors influencing the success of 8 policy processes. Worked quite well. In DFID - agendas and processes rather than documents are key

27 Organisational Capacity
Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices: The entrepreneurship questionnaire Training & mentoring etc Knowledge Management Organisational development Finance, admin & personnel systems Strategic (action & business) planning Fundraising & reporting Building an organisational profile Communications, Public Affairs and the Media Struyk, 2002, Local Governance Institute, Open Society Network, Budapest

28 Learning & KM Learning before, during & after Collaboration Tools
Peer Assist Reflective Inquiry After-Action Review Collaboration Tools E-discussions Shared workspaces Information management tools Intelligent search engines Incentives

29 Increasing Research Use
Increasing the pull for evidence Require the publication of the evidence base Require spending bids to provide evidence base Submit government analysis to external expert scrutiny Provide open access to information Facilitating better evidence use Encourage better collaboration across analytical services Co-locate policy makers and internal analysts Integrate analytical staff at all stages Link R&D strategies to departmental business plans Cast external researchers more as partners than as contractors Second more university staff into government Train staff in evidence use Source: Abstracted from PIU 2000, Bullock et al (2001)

30 UK Government “Tools” Overview and Checklist
1. Impact Assessment and Appraisal: guidance checklist for policy makers. Strategy and Policy Evaluation 2. Strategy Survival Guide 3. Magenta Book: Guidance notes on Policy Evaluation 4. Green Book: Appraisal and evaluation in Central Government 5. Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) Ensuring Key Perspectives are Included 6. Incorporating regional perspectives into policy making toolkit (Subnational) 7. International Comparisons in Policy Making Toolkit 8. Gender Impact Assessment: a framework for gender mainstreaming 9. Managing risks to the public: Appraisal Guidance Testing Policy Ideas 10. Policy Pilots Public-orientated Tools 11. Concern Assessment Tool 12. Community Engagement How to Guide 13. Connecting with Users and Citizens Getting Better Advice and Evidence 14. Expert Advisory Bodies for Policymakers 15. Improving Standards of Qualitative Research

31 Regulatory Impact Assessment
Aims to improve causality between evidence and advice A process that must be completed for all proposed policy changes: Purpose / intended effect Policy problem Options & evidence Impact & evidence Results of consultation Published More at:

32 Assessing Qualitative Research
A framework developed by the Cabinet Office / National Centre for Social Research Based on review of 29 existing frameworks (esp from medical/health) Four principles. Research should be: contributory; defensible in design; rigourous in conduct; credible in claim. 18 Questions, with criteria Recognises need for: Policymakers to have necessary expertise New approaches to research

33 Assessing Research Quality
How credible are the findings? How has knowledge or understanding been extended by the research? How well does the evaluation address its original aims and purpose? How well is the scope for drawing wider inference explained? How clear is the basis of evaluative appraisal? How defensible is the research design? How well defended are the sample design/target selection of cases/documents? How well is the eventual sample composition and coverage described? How well was the data collection carried out? How well has the approach to and formulation of analysis been conveyed? How well are the contexts of data sources retained and portrayed? How well has diversity of perspective and content been explored? How well has detail, depth and complexity of the data been conveyed? How clear are the links between data, interpretation and conclusions - i.e how well can the route to any conclusions be seen? How clear and coherent is the reporting? How clear are the assumptions/theoretical perspectives/values that have shaped the form and output of the evaluation? What evidence is there of attention to ethical issues? How adequately has the research process been documented? More at:

34 Conclusions From whichever side, you need Clarity of intent
A systematic approach To establish the right incentives / culture To establish the right systems To spend more To engage with all stakeholders To produce the right products for the right people at the right time

35 Further Information ODI – RAPID -
Publications Working Papers Briefing Papers Books Case Studies Workshops and Seminars Tools and Toolkits

36 Mini-Workshops Tools to understand the political and policy context and engage with policy makers. (Downstairs) Research and project tools to generate evidence which will convince policymakers. Ways in which local content reaches policy makers throughout the information chain.

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