DORA, a public declaration launched in 2013 with now over 23,000 signatories worldwide, aims to radically revise the current methods of research assessment. It speaks of an urgent need to improve the ways in which research is currently evaluated by moving beyond the monopoly of the Impact Factor to a more diverse and inclusive set of measures.
At Policy & Politics, we recognise this need very well. So many in our community tell us how their professional lives are dominated by the Impact Factors of journals: from winning funding awards, to getting jobs and promotions. Indeed, many of our authors tell us that’s their main driver for publishing with us. We want to be part of the journey to change this, recognising the value of taking a broader view of how we’re evaluating research quality. But we can’t do it single-handedly. So we stand alongside those in our community in seeking to diversify the ways in which research is evaluated.
This edition of our quarterly highlights collection focuses on the role of evidence in policymaking. It’s a theme we’ve curated collections around regularly, but our readership figures for these articles remind us time and again how important our community find this topic.
So, our first article on this theme by authors Clementine Hill O’Connor, Katherine Smith, and Ellen Stewart explores the question of how to balance evidence with public preferences.
How can policy organisations deal with competing (and sometimes conflicting) imperatives to strengthen the role of evidence in policy, with simultaneous calls to better engage diverse publics? Academic research has much to say about both the value of evidence for policymaking to increase (or improve) the policymakers’ engagement with evidence AND investigating a wide range of methods through which publics can be involved in policymaking. Perhaps surprisingly, these contributions are rarely connected. This disconnect is the focus of Integrating Evidence and Public Engagement in Policy Work: An empirical examination of three UK policy organisations.
by Clementine Hill O’Connor, Katherine Smith & Ellen Stewart
Balancing evidence with public preferences – a pressing policy dilemma?
How can policy organisations balance competing (and sometimes conflicting) imperatives to strengthen the role of evidence in policy, with simultaneous calls to better engage diverse publics? Academic research has much to say about both the value of evidence for policymaking and there are multiple studies examining evidence use in policy and assessing efforts to increase (or improve) the policymakers’ engagement with evidence. Academics have also been involved in developing a wide range of methods through which publics can be involved in policymaking. Perhaps surprisingly, these contributions are rarely connected. So, despite sharing a fundamental concern with the basis on which policy is made and a (sometimes implicit) claim to improve policy, these two areas of academic work are rarely connected. This is important because this disconnect creates real world challenges for people working in policy settings. This disconnect is the focus of our recent research published in Policy & Politics entitled Integrating Evidence and Public Engagement in Policy Work: An empirical examination of three UK policy organisations.
Natália Massaco Koga, Miguel Loureiro Pedro Lucas de Moura Palotti, Rafael da Silva Lins Bruno Gontyjo do Couto and Shanna Nogueira Lima.
The Evidence-based policy (EBP) movement argues for policy actors to use scientific evidence on ‘what works’ to improve public policies, highlighting the importance of science in policymaking. Empirical research shows that even bureaucrats in Anglo-Saxon countries, strongly influenced by this movement do not use academic sources widely, often preferring other sources of information, such as news media, public opinion and peers. But what informs policy in countries with low EBP influence?
All articles featured in this blog post are free to access until 31 October 2021
Introducing Elizabeth Koebele: our new Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno.
I am thrilled to have begun serving as Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics in January 2021. I have spent the last few months taking over this position from my colleague, Oscar Berglund, who now serves as one of the journal’s co-editors. As many of us are beginning to plan for our policy and politics-focused courses next semester, I figured what better way to celebrate joining the P&P team than to share with you some of my favorite Policy & Politics articles that make a great fit on a variety of syllabi? I hope this saves you time and effort in mining our recent articles, while also ensuring your course materials reflect the latest research from the frontiers of the discipline.
My initial suggestions are structured around two general topics that I hope many of you find yourself teaching or studying: one focused on knowledge, and one focused on actors/influence. I’m also sharing my top picks for readings on an increasingly popular policy topic: policy diffusion/transfer. In each case, I’ve recommended three articles that represent some of the most significant research we’ve published recently. Please let me know what you think when you’re compiling your reading lists for the start of the academic year. I’d value your feedback and suggestions for future topics to cover! Continue reading →
The idea that public policy should be informed by scientific knowledge has great appeal. There is a growing understanding among politicians, the media and the public that decision making—especially on complex issues such as climate change and biodiversity—must include a scientific evaluation of the underlying problems and the available solutions. The reasoning is that, without science, public policies are most likely doomed to be irrational or ideological or both. To dissociate themselves from such “bad policy making” and to express their commitment to science in the policy process, policy makers and analysts have come to adopt the slogan “evidence-based policy” (EBP). Continue reading →
“We have to listen to the experts.” During the coronavirus pandemic, this phrase has been repeated by politicians across the world. Only a few years ago, we were told that “people have had enough of experts”. Now experts are back in demand. At press conferences, prime ministers are flanked by public health experts. And governments have set up a dizzying number of expert groups and task forces to examine policy measures to stop the spread of the virus, to formulate strategies to exit the crisis, and even to investigate the government response to the crisis. Continue reading →
New virtual issues from Policy & Politics: Evidence in policymaking and the role of experts
The importance of using evidence in policymaking and debates over the role of experts has never been more crucial than during the current coronavirus pandemic and ensuing public health crisis. From prevailing, long-standing debates over both topics in Policy & Politics, we bring you a collection of our best and most recent articles.
‘Evidence-based policy’ and ‘what works’ are phrases that have become increasingly embedded in debate surrounding good policy-making over the last 20 years. This period has seen no shortage of critiques of these terms and the ways in which they have been employed, but relatively few attempts to articulate the precise foundations of knowledge on which they rest. Yet there are many interesting and important questions that might be asked. How exactly are stronger forms of evidence to be separated from weaker forms? What foundational assumptions lie behind the frequent endorsement of experimental methods? Or, most fundamentally, what precisely is the nature of the proposed link between good evidence and good policy? Continue reading →
Policy solutions, interventions and reform revolve around specific societal diagnoses of the problems that policymaking is supposed to solve. One of the most influential societal diagnoses informing contemporary policy reform seems to be the following: the world has become more ‘complex’, problems have become ‘wicked’ ie intractable, and all policy solutions involve a great deal of ‘uncertainty’. This popular, but rather vague and unhistorical notion has sprung various new approaches to solve diverging political problems. These approaches are often legitimised with scientific knowledge and methods. Continue reading →