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Submission to the Science and Technology Committee on Science and International Development

Working paper

Written by Louise Shaxson, John Young, Ajoy Datta

Working paper



This submission outline issues that have arisen since the initial terms of reference were issued and which we believe are important to the committee’s deliberations.  The focus for this submission is on how science can influence policy with reference to the whole system of generating and using knowledge.

While a focus on building scientific research capacity will help address issues of market failure in the provision of science as a public good, this is not the whole picture.  Science is a public good in its own right, but it is also a means to help deliver other public goods such as a cleaner environment, improved health, better education, broad-based economic development and improving trust between citizens and their government.    

Developing capacities to ensure that scientific research is used to deliver these wider public goods via the policymaking process means looking at the system as a whole (drawing on approaches like Innovations Systems (IS)) but also paying attention to specific parts of the system namely:

  • strengthening and systematising policymakers’ demand for science by equipping them with the tools and methods to be able to procure and use science cost-effectively;
  • adding value to scientific research by ensuring its implications are well understood and embedded in broader policy processes;
  • recognising the central importance of intermediary organisations which facilitate policy debates and convey narratives around science.

Building capacity is a not a straightforward process and doing so successfully requires long term commitment, a systemic approach, innovation and a high level of professional rigour.






Louise Shaxson Ajoy Datta and John Young