From policy engagement to research uptake:
Lessons for and from developing country researchers
While donors spend more than a billion dollars annually on development-related research, there is increasing acknowledgement that, for research to have any policy impact, it must be conceived, implemented and disseminated in close consultation with policy makers and other key stakeholders. However, in developing countries, where policy processes are anything but linear, local researchers who wish to engage with these processes generally face a complex endeavour,
involving a myriad of actors and interests.
Over the past few years, PEP has dedicated increasing resources to encourage, advise and support its grantees in engaging relevant policy actors and other stakeholders in their home countries. Also, through PEP’s sophisticated monitoring and evaluation system, around 60 research teams (supported under the PAGE initiative) were surveyed regularly, over a two- to three-year period, to assess their related progress and achievements. In addition to an impressive set of statistics - suggesting strong overall impact of PEP-supported activities in beneficiary countries - these surveys have yielded a great number of remarkable success stories, in which small teams of local and independent researchers have managed to engage and inform the highest spheres of decision-making, and even stir nation-wide debates on key development policy issues.
Building on the success of the PAGE initiative, PEP has decided to extend the scope of its policy outreach support program to include a variety of new training, assistance and mentoring activities. The design of this new program will naturally be informed, in great part, by the experience of the 60 PAGE research teams, from more than 30 different countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. From Macedonia to Indonesia, Brazil or Nigeria: while their experiences differ widely between regions and countries, and even between projects in the same country, the compilation of these stories suggests that there are key lessons to be learned from their experiences, in terms of what works and what doesn’t in “research uptake”. What are the best conditions and practices to implement, but also the kinds of challenges and obstacles that may be encountered and, potentially, overcome?
For this purpose, and in the context of its 2016 Annual Conference, PEP organized a series of special events – involving PAGE researchers, development practitioners, donors, policy actors and international experts – to share and learn from these experiences, as well as to identify key lessons that will serve to inform this new support program. See detail below, or download the 2016 PEP Policy Forum's program. PEP and its partners subsequently published and widely disseminated these conclusions through their network and communication channels, for the benefit of researchers and organizations worldwide.
 Young, J. (2010) ‘Impact of research on policy and practice’, Capacity.org, 29 October (online) and Cairney, P. (2016), ‘The politics of evidence-based policymaking’, The Guardian, 10 March (online)
Events and structure
June 4-5 | Training and advisory in research-to-policy communication methods and tools
During the first two days of the event, a group of PEP researchers, supported under the PAGE initiative and about to initiate the dissemination stage of their research projects, were provided with intensive training and individual counselling in best-known strategies, practices and tools for effective research-to-policy communication.
June 6-7 | Research-policy dialogue
Then, a series of dialogues were held between PEP-PAGE researchers whose projects involved the use of a community-based monitoring system (CBMS) and local policymakers from each of the project countries. The policymakers, mostly from local government units, were requested to share how they have used or plan to use the findings from CBMS in the preparation of local development plans, formulation of projects and monitoring of impacts of interventions.
June 8 | Policy forum
From policy engagement to research uptake: Lessons for and from developing country researchers
The PEP 2016 Policy Forum began with a keynote address by Mustapha Nabli, Chair of the PEP Board of Directors, who cumulates outstanding achievements as an accomplished researcher, senior World Bank economist and high-level policy-maker (including Central Bank Governor and twice Minister) in Tunisia. This first session was followed by an open Q&A period with the audience.
In the second session, a round table involving both policy actors and PEP resarchers, from different regions of the developing world, provided an opportunity to share experience and discuss issues related to research uptake from various perspectives. The discussions were moderated by John Young, one of the world's leading experts in the field (i.e. evidence-based policy), who also encouraged many interactions with the audience.
Find out more about conclusions and recommendations from the keynote address and the round table session.
For the first two sessions, efforts was made to connect the event with an external audience online, both through a “live webcast” (audio stream) and PEP social media pages.
A complementary poster session showcased selected research projects supported by PEP under the PAGE initiative, and also allowed direct interaction between PEP researchers and the attending audience.
Finally, PEP took opportunity to present the winners of the 2016 PEP Best Practice Awards. This annual competition scheme was implemented by PEP in 2013 to reward those research teams who, in addition to conducting high-quality research, would most actively engage in the implementation of a successful policy outreach strategy, i.e. to link their PEP findings to policy action/influence, at the local/national level. See for example the description of the three prize winners of the 2015 PEP Best Practice Awards.
The 2016 PEP Annual Conference was organized in collaboration and with the support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID, or UK Aid), Canada's International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
Join the discussion and share your views
In preparation for these events and discussions, PEP used its Facebook page to present a series of articles discussing the challenges of linking research to policy action. These articles were posted every Wednesday (from April 20 to June 1): key questions were raised, with tentative responses from PEP-supported researchers based on their personal experience. Find out more. We invite you to join the discussion and share your thoughts via #PEPConf2016.
The questions and views shared through this online and open discussion have served to inform the round table dialogue on June 8, which the online audience was also invited to attend via live podcast, and participate (e.g. asking questions to the panelists) using #PEPConf2016 on Facebook and Twitter.
- LIVE PODCAST
Podcasts will be available for download after the event.
- JOIN THE DISCUSSION AT #PEPConf2016
PEP also invited the online audience to join the round table discussion, live, on June 8 by following #PEPConf2016
This tag will pull together key updates and images across all social media channels, creating a dynamic real-time dialogue between participants.
Online event's program
(Time zone = Manila, Philippines)
9:30 (UTC+8) - Keynote address
Bridging research and policy in developing countries
Mr. Nabli cumulates outstanding achievements as an accomplished researcher, senior World Bank economist, and high-level policy-maker (including Central Bank Governor and twice Minister) in Tunisia.
Followed by an open Q&A period
11:00 (UTC+8) - Round table discussion
From policy engagement to research uptake:
Introduction by John Young, Head of the Research and Policy in Development Program, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), UK
Mr. Young is one of the world's leading expert in the field of evidence-based policymaking. He will both moderate and inform the panel discussion, and allow ongoing interactions with the audience - both online and on site
Session 1 - What works and what doesn’t?
12:30 (UTC+8) - Lunch break
14:00 (UTC+8) - Round table discussion
From policy engagement to research uptake:
Session 2 - How to promote greater use of research-based evidence?