In February 2013 Dr. Phil Davies presented at the 3ie-LIDC seminar ‘What works in international development’.
The Deputy Director of systematic reviews at 3ie (the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation), Phil Davies discussed how research doesn’t always provide straightforward answers to specific problems. He asserted the importance of anticipating more indirect routes to policy influence.
In part one he talks about the importance of timing for researchers wanting to engage and inform policymakers. He points to evidence that exists to show early engagement is important, and emphasises that communication is a two-way street with policymakers needing to actively look for and use evidence in their work. The timeframes vary enormously – anything from a couple of hours to three months, depending on whether the research is strategic or operational.
He also refers to the development of 3ie GapMaps as a visual and engaging tool for understanding what is known and what isn’t.
In part two he discusses the lack of face-to-face contact between researchers and the people making decisions. He talks about the importance of creating personal relationships between researchers and policymakers, and ‘working the evidence’ in order to maximise the chances of it being used.
He also stresses the importance of physical access, encouraging efforts towards ensuring that policymakers are aware of, and can get hold of, the kinds of evidence that they need to make good decisions.