Evidence & Policy
A journal of research, debate and practice

Improving the influence of evidence in policy creation: an ethnographic study of the research-to-policy collaborative

View author details View Less
  • 1 University of Texas Medical Branch, , US
  • | 2 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, , UK
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

Background:

Despite the known need for empirical research-to-policy studies, little is known about the factors and conditions needed to support meaningful evidence use or how to intervene to promote quality evidence use.

Aims and objectives:

To study research-policy processes empirically and descriptively, we conducted an ethnography that focused on the impact of the Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC) on legislator and researcher evidence use or policy engagement, including whether and how researchers and policymakers created and sustained meaningful relationships.

Methods:

The ethnography included participant observation as well as pre- and post- semi-structured interviews from policymakers (n=17), researchers (n=23), and RPC staff (n=5). The team attended relevant events as well as observed the formal and informal ways research is used in policymaking.

Findings:

In the paper, we describe how 1) legislative priorities were identified; 2) networks were established and maintained; 3) trainings evolved over time; 4) relationships between RPC staff, congressional staff, and researchers were facilitated; and 5) RPC followed up with policymakers and researchers.

Discussion and conclusions:

We 1) describe the experiences of participants and whether involvement in the intervention changed attitudes or behaviours about evidence use in policy; 2) describe the RPC process in practice, and how it was implemented and evolved over time; and 3) better understand the conditions supporting evidence use in policymaking. We conclude with the value of the RPC as a resource to fill a niche within the evidence and policy space, as well as suggestions for future research-to-policy programmes and practices.

  • Bednarek, A.T., Shouse, B., Hudson, C.G. and Goldburg, R. (2016) Science-policy intermediaries from a practitioner’s perspective: the Lenfest Ocean Program experience, Science and Public Policy, 43: 291300. doi: 10.1093/scipol/scv008

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boaz, A., Borst, R., Kok, M. and O’Shea, A. (2021) How far does an emphasis on stakeholder engagement and co-production in research present a threat to academic identity and autonomy? A prospective study across five European countries, Research Evaluation, 30 ( 3 ): 361 69 . doi: 10.1093/reseval/rvab013

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Braga, A. and Davis, E. (2014) Implementing science in police agencies: the embedded research model, Policing, 8: 294306. doi: 10.1093/police/pau039

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cairney, P. and Jones, M.D. (2016) Kingdon’s multiple streams approach: what is the empirical impact of this universal theory? Policy Studies, 44(1): 3758. doi: 10.1111/psj.12111

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cairney, P., Oliver, K. and Wellstead, A. (2016) To bridge the divide between evidence and policy: reduce ambiguity as much as uncertainty, Public Administration Review, 76(3): 399402. doi: 10.1111/puar.12555

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cairney, P.A. (2020) Understanding Public Policy: Theories and Issues, London: Red Globe Press. 

  • Copland, F. and Creese, A. (2015) Linguistic Ethnography: Collecting, Analysing and Presenting Data, London: Sage.

  • Crowley, D.M. and Scott, J.T. (2017) Bringing rigor to the use of evidence in policy making: translating early evidence, Public Administration Review, 77(5): 65055. doi: 10.1111/puar.12830

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crowley, D.M. et al (2021) Lawmakers’ use of scientific evidence can be improved, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(9): e2012955118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2012955118

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davies, H.T., Nutley, S. and Smith, P. (2012) What works? Evidence-based policy and practice in public services.

  • Day, C. (1994) Personal development planning: a different kind of competency, British Journal of In-Service Education, 20(3): 287302. doi: 10.1080/0305763940200302

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Evans, S. and Scarbrough, H. (2014) Supporting knowledge translation through collaborative translational research initiatives: ‘bridging’ versus ‘blurring’ boundary-spanning approaches in the UK CLAHRC initiative, Social Science and Medicine, 106: 11927. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.01.025

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Galletta, A. (2013) Mastering the Semi-Structured Interview and Beyond: From Research Design to Analysis and Publication, Manhattan, NY: NYU Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hopkins, A., Oliver, K., Boaz, A., Guillot-Wright, S. and Cairney, P. (2021) Are research-policy engagement activities informed by policy theory and evidence? Seven challenges to the UK impact agenda, Policy Design and Practice, 4(3): 34156. doi: 10.1080/25741292.2021.1921373

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Karcher, D.B., Cvitanovic, C., Colvin, R.M., Van Putten, I.E. and Reed, M.S. (2021) Is this what success looks like? Mismatches between the aims, claims, and evidence used to demonstrate impact from knowledge exchange processes at the interface of environmental science and policy, Environmental Science & Policy, 125: 20218.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kingdon, J.W. (2011) Agendas, alternatives, and public policies, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 [United States], Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research, doi: 10.3886/ICPSR28024.v1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kislov, R., Wilson, P.M., Knowles, S. and Boaden, R. (2018) Learning from the emergence of NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs): a systematic review of evaluations, Implementation Science, 13: 111. doi: 10.1186/s13012-018-0805-y

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kothari, A. and Wathen, C.N. (2013) A critical second look at integrated knowledge translation, Health Policy, 109 ( 2 ): 187 91 . doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2012.11.004

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kothari, A. and Wathen, C.N. (2017) Integrated knowledge translation: digging deeper, moving forward, Epidemiology and Community Health, 71 ( 6 ): 619 23 . doi: 10.1136/jech-2016-208490

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, R.M. (2004) Recording technologies and the interview in sociology, 1920–2000, Sociology, 38(5): 86989. doi: 10.1177/0038038504047177

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Long, E.C., Smith, R.L., Scott, J.T., Gay, B., Giray, C., Storace, R., Guillot-Wright, S. and Crowley, D.M. (2021) A new measure to understand the role of science in US Congress: lessons learned from the Legislative Use of Research Survey (LURS), Evidence & Policy, 17(4): 689707.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mulhall, A. (2003) In the field: notes on observation in qualitative research, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 41(3): 30613. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2003.02514.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oliver, K. and Faul, M. V. (2018) Networks and network analysis in evidence, policy and practice, Evidence & Policy, 14(3): 369-79. DOI: 10.1332/174426418X15314037224597

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oliver, K. and Cairney, P. (2019) The dos and don’ts of influencing policy: a systematic review of advice to academics, Palgrave Communications, 5(1): 111. doi: 10.1057/s41599-018-0199-0

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oliver, K., Innvar, S., Lorenc, T., Woodman, J. and Thomas, J. (2014) A systematic review of barriers to and facilitators of the use of evidence by policymakers, BMC Health Services Research, 14: 2. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-14-2

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oliver, K., Hopkins, A., Boaz, A., Guillot-Wright, S. and Cairney, P. (2021) What works to promote research-policy engagement?, Evidence & Policy, doi: 10.1332/174426421X16420918447616. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Parkhurst, J. (2017) The Politics of Evidence: From Evidence-Based Policy to the Good Governance of Evidence, Abingdon: Routledge.

  • Powell, A., Davies, H. and Nutley, S. (2017) Facing the challenges of research‐informed knowledge mobilization: ‘Practising what we preach?Public Administration, 96(1): 3652. doi: 10.1111/padm.12365

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rickinson, M. and Edwards, A. (2021) The relational features of evidence use, Cambridge Journal of Education, 51(4): 50826. doi: 10.1080/0305764X.2020.1865877

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shearer, J. C., Dion, M. and Lavis, J. N. (2014) Exchanging and using research evidence in health policy networks: a statistical network analysis, Implementation Science, 9(1): 126. doi: 10.1186/s13012-014-0126-8.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sutherland, K.A. (2018) Work-life balance: exploring the myths and realities of family, home, work, and life pressures for early career academics, in K.A. Sutherland, Early Career Academics in New Zealand: Challenges and Prospects in Comparative Perspective, Cham: Springer,  pp 11736.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trochim, W.M., Marcus, S.E., Mâsse, L.C., Moser, R.P. and Weld, P.C. (2008) The evaluation of large research initiatives: a participatory integrative mixed-methods approach, American Journal of Evaluation, 29(1): 828. doi: 10.1177/1098214007309280

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tseng, V. (2012) The uses of research on policy and practice, Social Policy Report, 26(2). doi: 10.1002/j.2379-3988.2012.tb00071.x

  • Ward, V., House, A. and Hamer, S. (2009) Knowledge brokering: the missing link in the evidence to action chain? Evidence & Policy, 5(3): 26779.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ward, V., Tooman, T., Reid, B., Davies, H. and Marshall, M. (2021) Embedding researchers into organisations: a study of the features of embedded research initiatives, Evidence & Policy, 17(4): 593614.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 1 University of Texas Medical Branch, , US
  • | 2 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, , UK

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 343 343 343
Full Text Views 225 225 13
PDF Downloads 202 202 23

Altmetrics

Dimensions