Many researchers want their research to influence public policy. Many charitable donors also want to influence / improve public policy and often fund the production of research and other activities to that end. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. What raises the chances of success? And how can a donor or researcher predict which opportunities or approaches are likely to be fruitful? Giving Evidence was hired by a large foundation to find out. We worked with On Think Tanks, and are here sharing some of what we found and learnt. We hope that it is helpful to you!

The foundation funds the production of research and ‘evidence into policy’ (EIP) activities. It focuses on low-income countries. Most of the researchers whom it funds are based in high-income countries. Often those researchers form partnerships with public sector entities they seek to influence: those can be national government departments (e.g., department of education), central government functions (e.g., office of the president), other national public bodies (e.g., central bank), regional or local governments or municipalities. Those partnerships take many forms: varying in their resource-intensivity, cost and duration.

Our research comprised:

  • Review of the literature about evidence-into-policy: This was not a systematic review, but rather we looked for documents, and insights within those documents, that are particularly relevant to the types of partnerships described. Our summary of the literature is here.
  • Interviews with both sides: With various people in research-producing organisations (universities, non-profit research houses, think tanks and others), and some of their counterparts in governments and operational organisations. Summary of insights from our interviews is here.

Read the full article about evidence and public policy by Caroline Fiennes at Giving Evidence.