The policymakers’ take and advice on research communication challenges

Policy Panel

Policy Panel

Any story has two sides. Research communication is no different; there are researchers and there are decision makers.. In developing countries, however, there is more to the challenge than a bridge between researchers and policy makers. Following up on the GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop, this blog takes to the policymaking side of the issue; specifically regarding the challenges in assessing research evidence and research uptake. Eric Aligula (Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, KIPPRA) and Leonard Kimani (Director, Economic Sector, National Economic and Social Council) talk about the main gaps and opportunities for research uptake in Kenya.

Leonard Kimani first talks about the challenges of policymakers in assessing and utilizing research in policymaking. Regarding policy briefs, he argues that policymakers appreciate policy briefs as an effective research communication tool. Kimani discusses a number of “Dos & Don’ts” for researchers, to help them maximize the opportunity of their research reaching the right audience. These are:

Dos:

  • Researchers should be very familiar with the research agenda, and make sure that the agenda is relevant to the challenges that are specific to a certain organization; whether the organization is governmental, counter governmental… etc.
  • They must also make sure that the quality of the research that they do is comprehensive, having in depth, and offering alternative practical solutions to the decision maker.
  • Mechanisms of dissemination should be put in place so that the research results could be shared, which could be through conferences, workshops, retreats, web portals or blogs.

Don’ts (plus advice!):

  • Researchers should not design their own problem; but based on practical needs to be met by the results.
  • They should never compromise design; it is however key that the research design is discussed with experts to make sure it is relevant to the subject area.
  • “Finalize and perish”; they should, however, make sure that that their research is shared, and that sharing mechanisms are a key part of the research design.

Watch the interview with Leonardo Kimani

Eric Aligula then argues that policymakers don’t have time to dig in lengthy technical research, which entails that researchers need to cater findings to their audience. He also believes that involving policymakers in different stages of the research process leads to more effective uptake.

In his opinion, researchers need to involve policy makers right from concept development; through research instrument preparation to the initial dissemination of the findings and then to the final dissemination of the results. This is important to promote a holistic understanding of what the issues are; both from the theoretical perspective as well as the program implementation perspective, to make sure that the issues are well understood.

His advice to researchers..

To hang in there! Results don’t come quickly, but if researchers stay on the course they should see the results.

Watch interview with Eric Aligula

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