Book Review: How to Involve Politicians in Your Research: The Art of Informing and Influencing Policy, edited by Syakhira Abdul Rahman et al.

Book Review: How to Involve Politicians in Your Research: The Art of Informing and Influencing Policy, edited by Syakhira Abdul Rahman et al.

IN How to Involve Politicians in Your Research: The Art of Informing and Influencing Policyeditors Syakhira Abdul Rahman, Lauren Tuckerman, Tim Worley And Phil Wallace collect advice from various stakeholders on how scientists can achieve research outcomes by reaching out to policy makers. This hands-on resource analyzes the growing momentum to facilitate the transition from academic research to tangible policy impact. Hugh Morris.

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How to Involve Politicians in Your Research: The Art of Informing and Influencing Policy. Syakhira Abdul Rahman, Lauren Tuckerman, Tim Worley and Phil Wallace (eds.). Edward Elgar Publishing. 2022.

Having worked most of my career at the intersection of academic research and public policy, I was itching to read and review How to Involve Politicians in Your Research: The Art of Informing and Influencing Policy and surprised by the seeming lack of interest in the book from academic journals and reviews. This surprise was fueled by my realization that over the past ten years there has been an increasing focus on increasing the participation of researchers in public policy development in the evaluation, funding, guiding, and promotion of publicly sponsored research. To promote this activity, the Research Excellence Framework panels in 2014 and 2021 reviewed impact case studies and since 2013 the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has provided annual bonus for the best example of impact on public policy. In addition, UK Research and Innovation encouraged funding applicants to describe in detail how their research will impact policy makers and other organisations. To give an extra boost to this push, in 2017 UK government departments published their areas of research interest with a detailed description of the study they wanted to order. More recently, UK Research Councils have begun awarding funded Policy Scholarships to encourage researchers to undertake policy-oriented research.

It is against this backdrop of growing government interest in and funding for policy-oriented research that the editors assembled a team of 41 researchers, politicians and donors to produce a guide with recommendations on how to engage policy-makers in research. The four editors, Syakhira Abdul Rahman, Lauren Tuckerman, Tim Worley, and Phil Wallace, are well placed to produce this review based on their work in Innovation Caucus hosted by Oxford Brookes University and funded by ESRC and Innovate UK. Their extensive experience and many contacts have led them to compose 24 complementary chapters that describe the many ways in which research can have a greater impact on policy.

The book is divided into three sections that focus on (i) understanding the needs of policy makers and formulating research proposals, (ii) ways to interact, and (iii) examples of informing, influencing, and influencing policy. In the first of these sections, Graham Reed and Sarah Chaytor provide excellent practical advice on who researchers in government departments and parliament should contact when they are trying to influence policy, and how best to engage with the various groups of these representatives and civil service departments. who support them. . In the same section, Anand Menon and Jill Rutter emphasize the importance of building research teams and relationships with potential users of research rather than relying on broadcasting through print and online media, while Sarah Foxen and Rowena Bermingham emphasize the importance of developing a common language. , not researchers and politicians who write about each other. These observations about barriers to effective stakeholder communication suggest why some researchers are reluctant to participate in this work and some journal editors are reluctant to engage in this agenda. As Menon and Rutter acknowledge, for academics “promotion, especially (in) high-ranking faculties, depends almost exclusively on publication records rather than ‘impact’ activities (59), prompting them to prioritize the placement of research articles. in academic journals, not incentives. greater research effect.

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The section on interaction methods covers various methods, from developmentcritical friend‘ to targeted policy engagement activities, and from collaborative doctoral research to research networks and commissioned research. The academic world described consists of a variety of new and hybrid academic roles, from applied graduate and doctoral students for research trainees to political scholarship and embedded research roles for mid-career researchers. These researchers and the policy professionals they work with are supported by a new group, knowledge brokers or mobilizers, who work to connect researchers to policy and practice. While recognizing new ways to ensure collaboration between researchers and policy makers, the authors in this section acknowledge that this remains a challenge. Debbie Johnson and her colleagues note that “(not) no matter how reliable and thought-provoking the ideas provided are, sometimes the academic conclusions are simply unpleasant for politicians” (109). Similarly, as Sarah Weekley comments, “(i) it is difficult, if not impossible, to trace ‘political influence’ to a single political event or series of discussions. This is because policies are often developed, reviewed and implemented in stages based on small decisions using evidence, experience, emotions and beliefs” (121).

The final section of the book describes policy engagement activities in a variety of contexts, from institutional to local and regional and national to international, and comments on the contribution of these activities to sustainability initiatives and the development of young researchers. . An analysis of how researchers can and do interact with policy makers includes traditional views of policy making as a linear process or a cyclical transition to more relational and systemic views. This section also interacts effectively with more critical accounts of who researchers and policy makers are, and their different research and evidence interests and goals.

From lone new researchers to members of large groups and institutions, the picture that emerges from the book is one of a thriving area of ​​academic research, with many real-world examples of political involvement and influence. The book accomplishes its goal by illustrating in a very practical way how scientists can interact more effectively with policy makers through various activities. The editors and authors also succeeded in demonstrating the value of university research for policy makers conducted by scholars at different stages of their careers.

If I have any nitpicks about what is an impressive book, it’s the lack of voices from the politicians who commission and sign off on this study, and from the stakeholders and end users who are involved in data collection and analysis. The first group, the elected representatives, are ultimately responsible to the media and voters for publicly funded research, and the second group are the subjects of what becomes politics. The book is 288 pages long, so perhaps these views, as well as those of current politicians, publishers, media editors, and think tanks, could form the basis for the next volume.

General, How to get politicians involved in your research is a valuable resource for research scientists and policy makers, and the activities and debates it documents deserve more coverage in academic journals and the mainstream media.

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