Objectives and strategy
Ultimately, the goal of PEP activities is for the research and researchers it supports to contribute to informing policy in developing countries. However, both researchers and donors face the challenge of promoting greater interest in the production and use of an evidence base for policies and programs throughout the world. This challenge has inspired PEP to develop a unique research support program in which grant recipients are mandated to complement their research project with an effective policy engagement and communication strategy.
Not only does this contribute to increase policy uptake of research findings, but experience has also proven that the researchers who engage in such activities usually benefit from increased exposure and acknowledgement as field experts at the national level, which in turn ensures the long term impact of PEP support.
According to periodical surveys conducted with PEP-supported research teams:
- 1 in 2 PEP researchers experiences significant career-promoting events, with 40% leading to their increased involvement in local/national policy processes
- 1 in 2 PEP projects result in findings reported in national news media
- 1 in 3 PEP projects leads to findings taken up to inform local/national policy decisions
Find out more about PEP impact stories
In 2016, PEP organized an international Policy Forum to discuss the challenges and options faced by researchers to successfully link their research work with policy actions. From this dialogue has resulted a very useful set of conclusions and recommendations to maximize chances of research uptake.
Over the past few years, PEP has dedicated increasing resources to encourage, advise and support its grantees in the implementation of effective policy influence strategies in their home countries. Building on nearly 15 years of experience, and information collected from various expert sources (see below), PEP has strengthened its own organizational expertise to provide the best possible guidance in terms of stakeholder mapping, policy engagement, research communications, etc.
As a result, the PEP Grant Plus program was recently extended to include the provision of intensive "how-to" type of training workshops (see below), as well as a new kind of "mentoring support" (each team paired with an experienced policy advisor from the same region) to guide them in the analysis of their project's policy context, stakeholder mapping, engagement and knowledge translation, throughout the research cycle.
At the onset of projects, PEP provides advisory and workshops to help researchers understand the policy and political context related to their research project/issue, as well as to design an effective policy engagement strategy.
- Download the presentation of the 2017 PEP policy engagement workshop.
Towards the end of a project, to ensure effective and well-targeted dissemination of findings, PEP also provides advisory and worshops focused mainly on research communications (best practices and tools).
- Download the presentation of the 2016 PEP communications workshop.
In addition to guiding and supporting policy engagement throughout the research cycle, PEP also provides researchers with both technical and financial support to disseminate findings more broadly and effectively. The specific activities supported by PEP through the "Grant Plus" program include:
- Translate and publish findings into both working paper and policy brief format - these are actually mandatory to receive the final (and largest) grant payments
- Organize a national policy conferences to share/discuss findings and their policy implications with a larger audience - over 90% of these events benefit from significant coverage in national news media
- Present the research work and findings at a high-level international conference
Related instructions and guidelines for researchers who wish to undertake such initiatives are provided in the "Funding/guides" section of the PEP website.
Finally, PEP researchers' findings are also dissmeminated through the network's frequent newsletters (PEP-Talk - over 11,000 recipients), annual reports, social networks (facebook and twitter), as well as through a specially dedicated section of the website reporting on "Policy findings from PEP research".
References and external resources:
Key references and tools for research-to-policy initiatives
- Carden, Fred (2009), « Knowledge to Policy: Making the Most of Development Research », IDRC, SAGE publications, 209 p. (online)
- Hovland, Ingie (2005), « Successful Communications: a Toolkit for Researchers and Civil Society Organisations », ODI Research and Policy in Development program (RAPID), ODI, London, 69 p. (online)
- Start, Daniel and I. Hovland (2004), « Tools for Policy Impact: a Handbook for Researchers », ODI Research and Policy in Development, ODI, London, 64 p. (online)
- 2017 PEP policy engagement workshop
- 2016 PEP research communications workshop
- Conclusions and recommendations from the 2016 PEP Policy Forum on "How to maximize chances of research uptake"
- The On Think Tanks School: Providing long and short online courses (webinars) to help researchers and think tanks develop competences for effective policy advocacy.
- "On think tanks" : In addition to courses, the OTT blog provides useful tips, references and forceful arguments in favor of research communications.
- "The right data at the right time": How to effectively communicate research to policy makers: A very interesting World Bank blog post by David Evans
Web Sources - Specialized Organisations:
- Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme: http://www.odi.org.uk/work/programmes/rapid/default.asp
- Find most of ODI-Rapid toolkits here: http://www.odi.org.uk/rapid/tools/toolkits/communication/tools.html
- Global Development Network: Research Communications and Knowledge Management: http://cloud2.gdnet.org/cms.php?id=research_communication
- International Center for Policy Advocacy: http://www.policyadvocacy.org/
- IFPRI Conference on the “Challenges, Methods and Innovations in Assessing Policy Influence”. About the lessons and challenges regarding research communications for evidence-based policymaking; skip to the second presentation given by IDRC Director of the Evaluation Unit, Fred Carden, which is of particular interest in the context of building a policy influence plan.
The two following videos are good illustrations of :
- Risks and consequences of not communicating research, especially relevant in the context of development research
- How do we make research available, accessible and applicable - the kind of initiatives that may be undertaken by development researchers in order to communicate findings to maximize benefit for the concerned populations: