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
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.