Impact Practitioners

Beginner’s guide to communicating research for policymaking

By 29/09/2022

This 56-page guide published by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission gives advice on how to communicate research to policymakers. The guide is easy to read and offers plenty of practical insights into developing and implementing an effective dissemination strategy. It is especially intended for researchers in the field of socio-economic sciences and humanities. 

The publication is divided into three parts: Concept, Policy Briefs and Practical Means. It also offers examples from practice in its Annex section. The first chapter covers the basics of developing a Communication Strategy, such as identifying audiences, establishing a dissemination team and understanding the importance of a two-way communication process between researchers and policymakers. 

The second section of the guide focuses on Policy Briefs, which are likely to be the most widely-read publications your research project will produce (at least in policymaking circles). A Policy Brief can explain the significance of your research project in a nutshell. However, its success is very much dependent on how you present it.

Policy Briefs should be succinct, accessible and jargon-free. Their contents should be organised logically and easy for readers to follow. The guide recommends following a five-part structure when writing your Policy Brief:

  1. Introduction 
  2. Evidence and analysis 
  3. Policy implications and recommendations
  4. Research objectives and methodology
  5. Project’s identity (funding, time frame, etc)

The guide provides an example of a Policy Brief in an annex. The resource also provides further tips on writing each section, coming up with an attractive title and formulating policy recommendations. 

The last section of the guide presents information about the different channels and methods you can use to reach and engage audiences, for example a dedicated website and research brochure. It also gives tips on how to attract and maintain media attention, participate in panels and briefing sessions and write a final summary report. 

Overall, the publication is aimed at researchers with little to no experience in engaging with policymakers. Although it was intended for those wishing to influence the EU’s policymaking, it is also relevant for academics engaging with other institutions and local governments. It is easy to read and packed with practical information and examples. 

This article is part of our initiative, R2A Impact Practitioners. To find out more, please click here.

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