Collection: Evidence & Policy Most Read of 2021

 

Enjoy free access to Evidence & Policy's top 5 most downloaded articles published in 2021. Access these articles for free until 31 July.

Evidence and Policy most read of 2021

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Background:

Continued growth of the evidence and policy field has prompted calls to consolidate findings in pursuit of a more holistic understanding of theory and practice.

Aims and objectives:

The aim of this paper is to develop and explore an analytical typology that offers a way to consider the heterogeneity of different actors in UK evidence and policy.

Methods:

We draw upon a discourse coalitions approach to analyse a series of semi-structured interviews with a cross-section of professionals in the evidence and policy field.

Findings:

We describe an analytical typology that is composed of three discourse coalitions, each with their own framings of the problems of evidence and policy relations, the practices needed to address these, the organisation of people, and their priorities for future development. These are: the analytical coalition, which typically theorises evidence and policy relations in a way that matches empirical observations; the advocacy coalition, which typically normatively refines and prescribes particular evidence and policy relations; and the application coalition, which typically evaluates contextual conditions and enacts techniques to bring evidence into policy and practice.

Discussion and conclusions:

We discuss the potential of this analytical lens to inform recognised tensions in evidence and policy relations, and consider how greater awareness of the positioning of individuals within these coalitions may help to foster improved collaboration and consolidation in the field. Ultimately, we note that distinct priorities in the three coalitions signify different visions for progress within the field that need to be negotiated.

Open access

Background:

A growing literature focuses on the roles of brokers, intermediaries, and boundary spanners (BIBS) in addressing the challenges of transferring research evidence between the research and practice or policy communities.

Aims and objectives:

In this systematic review, we examined two research questions: (1) where, how, and when are different BIBS terms (broker, intermediary, and boundary spanner) used? and (2) which BIBS terms get defined, and when these terms are defined, who are BIBS and what do they do?

Methods:

We conducted literature searches designed to capture articles on BIBS and the transfer of research evidence. We extracted information about eligible articles’ characteristics, use of BIBS terms, and definitions of BIBS terms.

Findings:

The search revealed an initial pool of 667 results, of which 277 articles were included after screening. Although we coded 430 separate uses of BIBS terms, only 37.2% of these uses provided explicit definitions. The terms, ‘broker’ and ‘brokerage’, were commonly applied in the health sector to describe a person engaged in multiple functions. The term, ‘intermediary’, was commonly applied in the education sector to describe an organisation engaged in dissemination. Finally, the terms ‘boundary spanner’ and ‘boundary spanning’ were commonly applied in the environment sector to describe people or organisations that engage in relationship building.

Discussion and conclusions:

Results demonstrated that when BIBS were defined, there were important (albeit implicit) distinctions between terms. Based on these results, we identify archetypal definitions for brokers, intermediaries, and boundary spanners and offer recommendations for future research.

Open access

Background:

‘Embedded research’ (co-locating researchers within non-academic organisations) is advocated as a way of developing more effective services through better creation and application of knowledge.

Aims and objectives:

The existing literature on embedded initiatives has largely been descriptive. There has been less in the way of analysis, for example, disaggregating the components of such schemes, unpacking underpinning logics, or comparing the diverse ways in which schemes are instantiated. We aimed to explore the nature and organisation of such schemes in health settings in the UK, with the objective of providing a systematised means of understanding their makeup.

Methods:

This study uses a focused literature review combined with a systematic scoping exercise of extant initiatives. We assembled documentation on each scheme (n=45) and conducted in-depth interviews in twelve of them (n=17). Analytically, we focused on surfacing and articulating the key features of embedded research initiatives in relation to their intent, structure and processes. Findings were then tested and validated during a co-production workshop with embedded researchers and their managers.

Findings:

We identified 26 ‘clusters’ of peer-reviewed papers detailing specific embedded research initiatives, and we explored 45 extant initiatives. The initiatives were varied in intent, structure and processes, but we were able to surface ten themes representing common features: intended outcomes, power dynamics, scale, involvement, proximity, belonging, functional activities, skill and expertise, relational roles, and learning and reflection.

Discussion and conclusion:

The themes uncovered can be used as a framework for guiding further systematic and evaluative enquiry on embedded research initiatives.

Open access

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.

Restricted access

Background:

Continued growth of the evidence and policy field has prompted calls to consolidate findings in pursuit of a more holistic understanding of theory and practice.

Aims and objectives:

The aim of this paper is to develop and explore an analytical typology that offers a way to consider the heterogeneity of different actors in UK evidence and policy.

Methods:

We draw upon a discourse coalitions approach to analyse a series of semi-structured interviews with a cross-section of professionals in the evidence and policy field.

Findings:

We describe an analytical typology that is composed of three discourse coalitions, each with their own framings of the problems of evidence and policy relations, the practices needed to address these, the organisation of people, and their priorities for future development. These are: the analytical coalition, which typically theorises evidence and policy relations in a way that matches empirical observations; the advocacy coalition, which typically normatively refines and prescribes particular evidence and policy relations; and the application coalition, which typically evaluates contextual conditions and enacts techniques to bring evidence into policy and practice.

Discussion and conclusions:

We discuss the potential of this analytical lens to inform recognised tensions in evidence and policy relations, and consider how greater awareness of the positioning of individuals within these coalitions may help to foster improved collaboration and consolidation in the field. Ultimately, we note that distinct priorities in the three coalitions signify different visions for progress within the field that need to be negotiated.

Open access

Background

We are witnessing increasing demand from governments and society for all sciences to have relevant social impact and to show the returns they provide to society.

Aims and objectives

This paper reports strategies that promote social impact by Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) research projects.

Methods

An in-depth analysis of six Social Sciences and Humanities research projects that achieved social impact was carried out to identify those strategies. For each case study, project documents were analysed and qualitative fieldwork was conducted with diverse agents, including researchers, stakeholders and end-users, with a communicative orientation.

Findings

The strategies that were identified as contributing to achieving social impact include a clear focus of the project on social impact and the definition of an active strategy for achieving it; a meaningful involvement of stakeholders and end-users throughout the project lifespan, including local organisations, underprivileged end-users, and policy makers who not only are recipients of knowledge generated by the research projects but participate in the co-creation of knowledge; coordination between projects’ and stakeholders’ activities; and dissemination activities that show useful evidence and are oriented toward creating space for public deliberation with a diverse public.

Discussion and conclusions

The strategies identified can enhance the social impact of Social Sciences and Humanities research. Furthermore, gathering related data, such as collaboration with stakeholders, use of projects’ findings and the effects of their implementation, could allow researchers to track the social impact of the projects and enhance the evaluation of research impact.

Open access