Fred Carden, Director of the Evaluation Unit, International Development Research Centre, Canada;
John Hoddinott, Senior Research Fellow & Deputy Director, Poverty Health and Nutrition Division, IFPRI;
John Young, Director of Impact Assessment, Partnerships and RAPID, Overseas Development Institute, UK
Research is an important component in the policymaking process. High-quality, policy-oriented research can improve public policy in developing countries and have significant payoffs in terms of economic growth, hunger and poverty reduction, and other development goals. Thoroughly assessing this research is legitimate and in the interest of all stakeholders involved. However, drawing a direct line between research and the results of a complex policymaking process presents a significant challenge.
Assessing the impact of policy research involves two major steps: (1) evaluating the economic, social, and environmental impacts of a policy change promoted by the research and (2) developing a convincing narrative or method to link the research activities to the policy change. The multitude of actors and interests involved in the policymaking process makes attribution, identification, and measurement of outcomes difficult. Also, the many types of research—agriculture, health, infrastructure, climate change, trade, and so on—mean there is no “one size fits all” approach to assessing policy influence.