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Interactive Academic Engagement with Policy and Program Stakeholders: Addressing the knowledge transfer gap

On 13th February 2013 the Centre for Social Sciences, Royal Holloway held an interactive workshop, bringing together policy and programme stakeholders and academics to discuss and share their expertise on how academic research can influence policy design and programme implementation.

Over 40 academics attended, from departments across the College, including Economics, Politics and IR, Management, Criminology and Sociology, Psychology, Music, History, Mathematics, Information Security, Drama and Theatre, and Geography. Details of the workshop are available here.

The key issues, messages and suggested ways forward are detailed below.

Academics can make key contributions if involved early in the policy process - there is as much value in advising when not to implement a new policy as to remove a bad policy;

One of the key barriers to greater engagement between academics and policy makers is that there are not clear lines of communication and academics frequently find it difficult to identify who to best engage with. Participants felt that more could be done on both sides to strengthen these lines of communication.

On the policy making side there could be more guidance and publicity about opportunities for academics to gain positions on policy and program advisory boards.

On the academic side more could be done to try and disseminate research in a policy friendly way.

Policy-makers consume significant amounts of data - reading everything that they can get their hands on. However, many do not have access to research published in journals hidden behind a pay wall, and so academics may want to think about how they promote their research (e.g. twitter) and disseminate it.

Academics need to distil research findings into a policy friendly formats - summaries and bullet points - and allocate sufficient time to better publicise and promote research to help ensure it reaches policy, program and broader stakeholder audiences.

Academics and policy makers need to invest in building long-term relations, and actively cultivate contact through engaging in workshops and seminars to help facilitate dialogue and networking.

Though it can take time to attain, being recognised as a ‘trusted voice’ to a Minister or senior official is highly valuable as academics can then have direct impact upon the direction of policy, as follows:

  • Policy-makers trust/rely on academics for the accuracy of data and the ability to present and communicate effectively to policy audiences and being comfortable with working with generalists;
  • Once an academic becomes a ‘trusted voice’ they are closer - though still a degree removed - to the policy process, which enables stronger engagement and the broader exchange of ideas;
  • Academics should feel comfortable in sharing their views of policy ideas –whether they agree or not – and be willing to identify possible impact of their research and solutions to policy issues;

Workshop Report

Zamila Bunglawala. ‘Interactive Academic Engagement with Policy and Program Stakeholders' Report of workshop held at Centre for Social Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Friday 13 February, 2013



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