From Access to Action: Impact pathways for knowledge services

By 08/04/2020

Reading this document feels a little like snooping in someone’s diary. This is probably because it was intended to provide a guide for internal strategic planning, but it’s a good discussion document for others in the sector.

IDS is an information and knowledge intermediary. It hosts a ‘family’ of Knowledge Services which facilitate research and share information others working to reduce poverty and injustice.

Anna Downie’s From Access to Action: Impact pathways for knowledge services addresses three problems in information flow: (1) policymaking that is characterised by partial knowledge based on a narrow evidence base; (2) information from the research sector that needs to be translated to make it suitable for audiences outside of the research area; and (3) relationships between particular researchers and particular policymakers that are too close and that as a result close off ‘policy spaces’.

The first half of the document is a very self-reflective exposition of frameworks (or ‘impact pathways’). These are theories about how IDS Knowledge Services view their contribution to increasing information use, and the role of that information in development processes and social change.  It is explicitly descriptive and not prescriptive. The model is intended to evolve as it is used.

The framework is generic. This allows the same framework to be used universally, but it should be tailored around more specific outcomes for individual services. The intention is to start at the ‘vision and goal’ end of the pathway in order to work backwards towards the product being planned. This allows for a more outcome-focused view of intervention. A ‘Pathways of information flows’ graphic illustrates the framework (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. From Access to Action: IDS Knowledge Services Information and Impact Pathways

The second half of the document provides a case study using the framework to analyse the Information Department Strategy 2008–2013. Each section is described in detail (see Figure 2 below), and slots into the framework visual aid shown in Figure 1.

Figure 2. Example of an Information and Impact Pathway using the IDS Information Department Strategy 2008–2013.