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  • Author or Editor: Justyna Bandola-Gill x
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Background:

The canonical view of expert legitimacy in policymaking links it to objectivity and autonomy from politics. Yet, in practice such ‘epistemic gains’ stemming from the separation of facts and values are problematic, as expert advice inherently combines political and technical considerations.

Aims and objectives:

This article addresses the puzzle of double – technocratic and political – legitimacy of experts by proposing a framework for understanding expert legitimacy as an interplay of three analytical levels: epistemic, individual actor and institutional. The paper explores this problem in the case study of global poverty measurement as a field located at the interface of science and policy.

Methods:

This is a comparative case study of poverty measurement in the World Bank and UNICEF. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with 40 experts employed by the two organisations.

Findings:

The analysis posits expert legitimacy as constructed via navigation between specific practices of knowledge production, such as the production of policy-relevant and methodologically robust knowledge, a strategic distance between the research and the political setting aimed at extending or shortening the distance between experts and policymakers, and institutionalised cultures of evidence of the organisations through which expert advice is given.

Discussion and conclusion:

The paper offers a theorisation of expert legitimacy as symbiotic negotiation between technocratic and political modes of accountability which are irrevocably linked while remaining strategically separated.

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Controversies, Consequences and Challenges

Measuring research impact and engagement is a much debated topic in the UK and internationally. This book is the first to provide a critical review of the research impact agenda, situating it within international efforts to improve research utilisation. Using empirical data, it discusses research impact tools and processes for key groups such as academics, research funders, ‘knowledge brokers’ and research users, and considers the challenges and consequences of incentivising and rewarding particular articulations of research impact.

It draws on wide ranging qualitative data, combined with theories about the science-policy interplay and audit regimes to suggest ways to improve research impact.

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Background:

‘Co-production’ is one of the key concepts in evidence-informed policy and practice – in terms of both its theoretical importance and its practical applications − being consistently discussed as the most effective strategy for mobilising evidence in policy and practice contexts. The concept of co-production was developed (almost) independently across multiple disciplines and has been employed in various policy and practice fields including environment, sustainability, and health.

Aims and objectives:

This paper surveys the literature to identify different meanings of co-production across different disciplinary bodies of knowledge. Such exploration is aimed at identifying the key points of convergence and divergence across different disciplinary and theoretical traditions.

Methods:

We performed a systematic search of Web of Science via a query designed to capture literature likely focusing on co-production, and then manually examined each document for relevance. Citation network analysis was then used to ‘map’ this literature by grouping papers into clusters based on the density of citation links between papers. The top-cited papers within each cluster were thematically analysed.

Findings:

This research identified five meanings of co-production, understood as a science-politics relationship, as knowledge democracy, as transdisciplinarity, as boundary management, and as an evidence-use intervention.

Discussion and conclusions:

Even though different clusters of scholarship exploring co-production are closely connected, this concept is mobilised to capture phenomena at different levels of abstraction – from post-structuralist theories of knowledge and power to specific strategies to be employed by researchers and policymakers.

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This chapter considers how the concept of ‘research impact’ has been developed and articulated with respect to two, potentially very different audiences: policymakers and the broader public. This chapter includes an analysis of recent REF (Research Excellence Framework) and research funder guidance, statements and opportunities relating to these two groups. This chapter also draws on interview data with a range of research funders

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This chapter uses six in-depth interviews with high profile academics in a range of countries that have an interest in the notion of research impact: Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. Three of our interviewees are what we term ‘public intellectuals’, while the other three, each of whom works at the intersection of research and policy, we term ‘academic interlocutors’. These perspectives allow us to consider how academics working within and beyond the UK, with some contrasting views about external engagement, view notions of ‘public intellectualism’, ‘relevance’ and ‘impact’.

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This chapter builds on the debates presented in chapters 1 and 2, providing a more in-depth assessment of critiques of the research impact agenda. This includes concerns expressed in the Stern review and debates regarding the possibility of applying ‘metrics’ to impact. It then considers how the impact agenda has been defended and amended in the context of these critiques.

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This chapter takes a more historical approach, using public health as a case study to explore how views of efforts to stimulate and reward research impact have changed over time. To achieve this, the chapter compares the views of academics interviewed in 2003-2007, the run up to the RAE in 2008, just before the emergence of ‘research impact’, with the views of academics working in the same field in 2011-2015, who experienced REF2014 and the first attempt to assess impact case studies.

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This chapter focuses on academics working in university-based groups that have been charged with, and funded to achieve, knowledge translation and research impact. These are, we suggest, academics working at the vanguard of the impact agenda, who we might consider as experimental subjects from whom we can learn. This chapter includes a summary of the types of knowledge brokerage roles and organisations that have been created in the UK and the perceived and stated rationales for these new roles and organisations, and an analysis of interview data providing insights into the perspectives of academics working within two such groups.

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This chapter seeks to apply the critical perspectives of the previous chapters to provide some pragmatic and practical suggestions for redeveloping the UK research impact agenda. To do this, the chapter summarises the key concerns about, and support for, research impact identified in the book and situates these findings in the context of existing literature/debates. It then draws on suggestions from each of the book’s five authors to outline alternative potential approaches to incentivising, monitoring and rewarding research impact, informed by the ideas evident in their respective research and subject areas.

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