The importance of research knowledge in strengthening policy has been increasingly recognized in the development sector and there is a growing body of theory and practice that explores ways in which the goal of evidence based policy can be realized. This paper takes a slightly unusual look at the question of how to support greater use of research evidence in policy making in the following ways.
Firstly it looks at the question from the demand-side exploring issues around what motivates, incentivizes and enables policy makers to engage with research. Although the barriers policy makers face in engaging with the research is certainly covered in some debates about evidence based policy, the emphasis is often on what this means for the supply-side of this equation, in particular how researchers can communicate their work more effectively.
Secondly it looks at evidence based policy in terms of the information behaviours of those involved in policy formulation. These information behaviours shape how policy actors engage with (or fail to engage with) research in a range of policy processes rather than just one. The paper looks at what shapes those information behaviours.
Thirdly, it considers the types of intervention that might change attitudes of policy makers towards research evidence on an ongoing basis rather than looking at how a policy maker may be convinced to engage with a particular piece of research (which we understand to be research communication) or engage with research in particular policy process.
Finally, the paper looks particularly at the contribution and potential contribution of knowledge and information intermediary actors and knowledge brokers in this context. It focuses on these actors because they are trying to change the processes by which decisions are made so that they incorporate evidence from multiple perspectives, thus they are trying to change behaviours of actors within processes not the outcomes of those processes. This aspect of their work is not well understood, often even by those undertaking it and it is hoped that this paper will help to shed some light on this area and provide inspiration to these actors about future activities.
Pujar, S.; Fisher, C. Stimulating Demand for Research: Exploring Cultures of Information Use in South Asia. A desk based study prepared for EADI-DSA 2011 Conference, 19-22 September 2011, York, UK. Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK (2011) 24 pp.