Why do researchers struggle to communicate their research for evidence-based policymaking?

A lot of research is being carried out on economic and social development; with the intention of helping policymakers understand the challenges in development and produce better policies; but not much have achieved that objective. There are different reasons why solid research fails often to be looked at or acted on, among which poor and ineffective communication of research to target audience.

Generally speaking, the goal of any research is to have an impact. Researchers intend to communicate their results either to policymakers to make an impact on the decisions taken, or to donors to secure funding for their research.

And you, what about your goal? If your goal is to have an impact, communicating your research results and proving that your research is of good quality should become your priority → Convince to win!

While some researchers fail to reach their audience from the very beginning, others fail to convince when they get to the right policymaker. But why does this actually happen?

At the latest GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Workshop and as part of building the researchers’ capacity in communicating their research effectively, we had the opportunity to interview some of the participants about the challenges they face when communicating their research to policymakers and why they fail sometimes, if not often, to get their voices and research findings heard.

The difficulty of getting into the policy arena and establishing contact with policymakers; crafting concise and compelling messages out of a complex and detailed research; lack of coordination between policymakers and researchers; understanding the decision-making process; all of the above came out as significant challenges, among others.

Watch highlights from different interviews

Are you a French speaker? Watch interviews with francophone researchers

Interested to learn more about the challenges faced by researchers to communicate their research? Check out talking heads from previous GDNet workshops


14 Responses to Why do researchers struggle to communicate their research for evidence-based policymaking?

  1. Another challenge is the culture…when Policymakers do not have the open culture to use evidence based research/ knowledge to solve real societal and economic problem

    • Zeinab Sabet says:

      Couldn’t agree more Shahira! It is a two-way cultural challenge – researchers not being open enough to simplify their results and tailor them to their target audience.

    • Glenys Jones says:

      What makes for effective communication of evidence for evidence-based policy? Let’s have some input and suggestions from those who have had some success in this field..

  2. Very true… i think the magical value of communications is “Translation” and to bring people on the same wave-length taking the same language.

  3. researchimpact says:

    These videos highlight the need for researchers to work with knowledge intermediaries. Knowledge intermediaries can help with access to policy makers (we usually have an established network), with packaging research in useable formats and with coordinating between researchers and end users. We can also help to form and sustain collaborations between researchers and end users so research is co-created and useful for academic as well as applied purposes. At York University (Toronto, Canada) we not only perform these functions for our researchers, students and their partners but we also build capacity for this activity so that research teams have the ability to reach out and engage with non-academic research partners. Wee also work with non-academic partners and build their capacity to engage with research. The videos are great because they identify a need and create an opportunity for their institutions to step up and help fulfill this need. See the work of the DRUSSA network (http://www.drussa.net/) in Africa who are starting to build capacity for Research Uptake Management in 24 African Universities.

    • DRUSSA tackles the issue on three fronts:

      1. We work with the universities to professionalise Research Uptake and Research Uptake Management and build the skills sets of individuals at universities involved in or responsible for disseminating research. We offer a postgraduate programme that consists of short, accredited courses in Research Uptake and Utilisation as well as an MPhil and PhD programme in Science and Technology Studies (Specialisation in Research Uptake & Utilisation).

      2. We work towards strengthening the internal systems, structures and processes of the universities to allow and facilitate effective communication of research at institutional level.

      3. We engage a variety of audiences to create awareness of, contribute to and build the discourse around the emerging discipline of Research Uptake Management in the field of academic research management. This is done digitally by way of the DRUSSA blogsite (www.drussa.net) and DRUSSA App (www.drussa.mobi) as well on the social media, namely Twitter (@DRUSSAfrica), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/developmentresearchuptakeinssa) and LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/groups/DRUSSA-4226730?gid=4226730&trk=hb_side_g).

      I’m part of the third group. In this capacity I can pledge to do all in my power to help southern researchers have greater impact.

      • Zeinab Sabet says:

        Dear Linda,
        Thank you for your comment, and for pledging to help southern researchers on our Linkedin Connect South profile. Please have a look at our capacity building program http://cloud2.gdnet.org/cms.php?id=com_cap_buil . There may be a room for collaboration in the Research Comms Capacity Building workshops we hold in Africa.

  4. Zeinab Sabet says:

    Many thanks researchimpact for your comment. Glad to hear that the videos are useful for you. Indeed, researchers need to engage with knowledge intermediaries to ensure a better outreach. As for capacity building, we also work closely with researchers to build their capacity and improve their confidence in communicating their research to policy through our Research Communications Capacity Building Program. We run research communications training (policy brief and media training workshops) during which we address the importance of engaging with knowledge intermediaries when communicating research to end users. Perhaps there is a an opportunity to collaborate towards this end? Please visit our capacity building program on http://cloud2.gdnet.org/cms.php?id=com_cap_buil , you will find all workshop related information and material.

  5. Zeinab Sabet says:

    I take this opportunity to invite you to join our Connect South Campaign (http://cloud2.gdnet.org/cms.php?id=connectsouth ) and to pledge how you will help southern researchers have a greater impact (http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Connect-South-campaign-4465483?gid=4465483&trk=hb_side_g)

  6. Pingback: thoughtfordevelopment – Facilitating Knowledge Exchange for Development | thoughtfordevelopment.com

  7. Zakir says:

    As Researchers and Policymakers are different in species!

  8. Pingback: Research uptake: a road hedged up with thorns « GDNet Blog

  9. Pingback: Work Harder to be More Effective / Travailler plus fort pour être plus efficace | Mobilize This!

  10. Pingback: Researcher policymaker: A missing bridge? | GDNet Blog

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