John Young - ODI
Dylan Winder - DFID
Dominic Furlong - IDS
Naved Chowdhury - ODI
Diane Stone - CEU
Bridging Research and Policy in Development was the theme of the 2004 DSA Annual Conference, held in London on 6th November 2004. Diane Stone chaired a workshop on Promoting Evidence-based Development Policy, which was attended by around fifty participants of the DSA conference.
The workshop was designed to provide a synthesis of the latest research on evidence-based policy in developing countries, policy perspectives from DFID, the latest on effective research communication and a perspective from the South.
John Young gave a presentation on Bridging Research and Policy: A Framework and New Approaches. The presentation focused on the theory around the role of research in policy processes, and the RAPID framework developed to help understand policy processes and develop strategies to promote evidence-based policy making. In conclusion John noted that research does matter, but perhaps not as much as you may think. The process of policy influence is multi-faceted, lengthy and complex, and researchers need to acknowledge and engage with all four key factors in the RAPID Framework
The presentation was followed by brief feedback statements from the three other panellists. Dominic Furlong presented a response to the RAPID Framework from his experience from both the donor perspective and also with regard to communications services. He spoke on the theory and practice of getting research results out and used; bottlenecks to learning, dissemination and uptake in the north and south; and opportunities to improve research communication.
Dylan Winder presented his feedback from a DFID policy-maker's perspective. He spoke about the emphasis on communication and engagement in the new CRD research strategy; the impact of current policies on national research capacity and science-policy links; and the role of northern donors and researchers. He concluded that promoting the use of research-based policy was a big opportunity to improve the lives of the poor. However, the underlying issue remains problems of governance.
Naved Chowdhury presented his feedback from a Bangladeshi perspective. He spoke about the current and future impact of northern-funded and led development research; the capacity of southern researchers and their engagement with policy makers; and what should be done to improve the use of research in policy. He concluded that researchers need to be consistent, persistent, strategic and patient, and also that there should be mutual respect between researchers and policy-makers.
Participants raised a number of issues about the framework itself and provided some practical experiences of their own. A number of important issues emerged from the discussions: that development researchers had a moral responsibility to consider the policy dimensions for their work; that there should be more incentives for academics to disseminate their research; that donors should devolve more of their budgets to researchers in developing countries; and that policy makers should pay more attention to the evidence.