What’s the next step in encouraging research-informed policy?

The Development Intelligence Lab recently asked three research uptake experts - including Institute Doctoral Scholar Ujjwal Krishna, Bridi Rice and Patrick Kilby - what the next step would be to encourage better research-informed policy. The results were published in The Intel on the Development Intelligence Lab site with Ujjwal's response extracted below.

What’s the next step in encouraging research-informed policy?

Whenever time-poor bureaucrats use research to inform policy and programming, they often need to take short-cuts. Those seeking research are constrained by the networks that influence them, political considerations, their implicit biases, and dominant ideas emerging from Western institutions and thinkers. And while impact-focused researchers may contextualise and frame their findings strategically, the incentive structures of academics working in universities, (i.e., long research timelines and the production of journal articles), are misaligned with the needs of policymakers.

Australia’s new development policy is a crucial opportunity for DFAT to rebuild its capacity to engage with research and evidence. Consultations have focused on promoting ‘effectiveness and learning’, while Minister Conroy has remarked that he wants ‘AusAID to take over DFAT’. Hiring and promoting development expertise should be complemented by improving research accessibility and, more importantly, re-thinking who DFAT listens to.

There is a need to re-educate Australians more generally with Pacific literacy, and for DFAT to create mutual mechanisms with Pacific stakeholders to not just assess impact and quality, but help plan, inform, and design better development assistance. Creating a department-wide knowledge repository of commissioned and external research may enable effective dissemination of findings internally and help make academic research more accessible and relevant to policymaking. Involving Pacific researchers and experts in building this comprehensive resource, which is being done in the gender space, would amplify local research that is either overlooked, or is filtered through a Western lens before reaching decision-makers.

You can read all three responses in the original post on The Intel, Development Intelligence Lab.