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10 things to know about how to influence policy with research

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Helen Tilley, Louise Shaxson, Joanna Rea, Louise Ball, John Young

Around the world, we are facing enormous challenges. Poverty, conflict, migration, disease and natural disasters are just some of the reasons why many people don’t have access to quality basic services and opportunities.

Public policies that seek to address these challenges will only work if the choices made by decision-makers, technical or political, are informed by the best available evidence.

This is why research is essential. It can produce good evidence to inform local, national and international policy that, in turn, has the potential to transform lives for the better.

But influencing policy is neither easy nor automatic – you need to want to do it. To be successful, you need to be open to different ways of working.

Here are 10 things you need to know if you want to use research to influence policy.

01 Know what you want to influence
02 Know who you want to influence
03 Know when to influence
04 Build relationships and networks
05 Policy development is not a linear process
06 Policy-making is inherently political
07 Plan your engagament
08 Focus on ideas and be propositional
09 It takes time, stick at it
10 Monitor, learn and adjust along the way