Political science? Strengthening science–policy dialogue in developing countries.


Science-related issues, such as climate change, food security and biotechnology, and their relevance for development and poverty reduction, are attracting growing international attention. At the same time, the value of science and technological information to development is already well-established in fields such as health, agriculture and natural resource management. These trends are set against a background of increasing international interest in and rhetorical commitment to evidence-informed policy dialogue and processes as a means to improve development policy and practice. Surprisingly, however, there is a dearth of research that systematically examines the science–policy interface in developing countries. Even fewer analysts have sought to offer practical strategies and recommendations for strengthening these processes.

This study contributes to filling this gap by providing a multi-layered analysis of the science-policy interface in developing countries. It draws on work carried out by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme commissioned by SciDev.Net. The analysis combines theoretical and empirical strands, comparing Northern and Southern contexts and drawing out theoretical insights, as well as providing practical recommendations for action. It focuses on three broad questions: What is the patterning of relationships among scientific researchers, policy decision-makers and intermediaries in developing country contexts? What are the challenges and opportunities for strengthening these linkages? What types of strategies exist or could potentially be adopted to improve evidence-informed policy processes?

After an introduction, section 2 gives an outline of the methodology used to carry out the study, highlighting the value of the multi-pronged approach. Section 3 examines existing literature on the science-policy interface, reviewing key challenges and strategies to tackle these. Section 4 presents the results of empirical investigations, exploring the findings of an international survey, key informant interviews and seven country case studies (Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Ghana, India, Nicaragua and Zambia) in relation to the tensions and strategies highlighted by the literature. Section 5 concludes.


ODI Working Paper 294, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), London, UK, ISBN 978 0 85003 878 1, 57 pp.

Political science? Strengthening science–policy dialogue in developing countries.

Published 1 January 2008