T02P26 - Bridging the Gap between Research and Action: Making Research Accessible to Civil Society and Policymakers

Topic : Comparative Public Policy

Panel Chair : Nicholas Perry - Nickperry05@gmail.com

Panel Second Chair : Mushtaque Chowdhury - mushtaque.chowdhury@brac.net

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1

Research of, for and by citizens: citizen science as a grand platform for nuclear energy policymaking and governance

Shoko Tanaka - stanaka0627@gmail.com - Japan Forum on International Relations - Japan

Recent years have seen expanding size of academia and various researches being pursued by or available for capable takers. And yet, the full prospects of researches for becoming practical use have still been concealed. Researches in STEM fields in particular have been shared and enjoyed within the scientists, the tendency which largely accounts for the lasting detrimental social impacts that the nuclear disaster in Fukushima has triggered since March 2011. Meanwhile, the nuclear accident has inspired the lay citizens in Fukushima to take an initiative to collect and disseminate radiation data and to assess the risks to their health and environment. However, their influence has been limited to raising public awareness about the contingencies of issues at stake, and their work has attracted little attention of the Japanese government or policymakers. In light of this, Germany opted for nuclear power phase-out as a response to the accident and the Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a group of academics to form Ethics Commission for a Safe Energy Supply. This move is significant in that it translates into the state acknowledging the social shaping of technology, and the role that academia can play in co-ordinating research and innovation in political arena. Combining the sequence of events as above helps highlight the indispensable links between civil society, academia and policymakers in nuclear field in demand.

Hence, the paper first seeks the intersections between this sort of citizen-led initiatives, or often termed as citizen science, and academia, and illustrates how this collaboration can enable inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches to better respond to social problems. The paper then examines how academia can help translate the social problems into political language, while highlighting its potential in making the voices of the society heard to policymakers.

By way of elaborating the cases of Japan and Germany, the paper attempts to offer insights into the mutual shaping in nuclear field with citizen science playing a pivotal role in the whole picture. The paper also studies Anthony Giddens’ concept of risk society. The study enables to regard the gaps between society and science and/or technology as an opportunity for enhancing social interaction and emergency preparedness in civil society.

The paper is of relevance to the panel as it suggests that, rather than to look for the ways to make research accessible and actionable to the general public, priority should be given to reflecting on how we can realise civil participation in (political) issues that are external to the citizens’ real life matters at the absence of felt risks. It is this bottom-up approaches to policymaking that can strengthen civil society, which itself leads to bring about democracy and sustainable governance.

Using Global Policy Data to Accelerate Effective Action on the SDGs

Aleta Sprague - asprague@ph.ucla.edu - WORLD Policy Analysis Center, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health - United States

Jody Heymann - jody.heymann@ph.ucla.edu - Fielding School of Public Health; WORLD Policy Analysis Center - University of California, Los Angeles - United States

The Sustainable Development Goals embody the world’s greatest aspirations for human health, education, equality, the economy, and the environment. Their realization relies on investment and cooperation among all stakeholders, including civil society, governments, and the private sector. Yet at their core, the SDGs are a commitment by national governments to strive to meet these critical objectives over the next 15 years.


Central to this commitment, and to the achievement of the SDGs both at the national level and globally, is the formulation and successful implementation of national policies that are effective at achieving progress at scale. Focusing on a small sample of SDGs critical to women’s economic empowerment (SDGs 1, 5, and 8), this paper will discuss how data can support national policies and successful implementation to advance the SDGs.  While past monitoring efforts have often prioritized outcome data over policy data, as this paper will explore, including globally comparative policy data may provide a crucial key to accelerating change over the next fifteen years.


This paper will first provide an overview of the ways in which globally comparative policy data, alongside implementation and outcome data, can be used to transparently and effectively monitor countries’ progress on enacting policies and strengthening implementation in areas where we already know which laws and policies can improve outcomes. The paper will then explore how globally comparative policy data can accelerate progress on the SDGs by deepening our understandings of what works.


In addition, an appendix to this paper will provide examples of one successful approach to translating research on policy impact into accessible language for use by civil society, policymakers, development practitioners, and other stakeholders. Spanning a wide range of topics relevant to the SDGs, including infant mortality, access to education, child marriage, and child labor, these two-page policy briefs will illustrate one method for ensuring that complex research using global policy data to evaluate the impacts of policies on outcomes reaches those who can take action. Copies of these resources will be available for dissemination to panel attendees.



Participatory Action Research (PAR) enhances evidence-based policy making at sub-county level in Uganda

Mastewal Yami - m.yami@cgiar.org - International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) - Uganda

Piet van Asten - p.vanasten@cgiar.org - International Institute of Tropical Agriculture - Uganda

Pamela Pali - pnpali@yahoo.com - Uganda

Providence Happy - H.Providence@cgiar.org - International Institute of Tropical Agriculture - Uganda

The limited use of evidence in policy processes hampers agricultural development in Africa. In Uganda, agricultural policy development lacks relevant and timely evidence, and appropriate skills of policy actors to use evidence in policy processes. The failure of agricultural policies to capture the key challenges of local communities coupled with limited participation of the communities in policy design contributes to low level of policy implementation. This paper analyses the relevance of Participatory Action Research (PAR) in enabling evidence creation and use in the development of bylaws relevant to sustainable crop intensification in Uganda. The PAR approach was employed to develop bylaws that address the key challenges to intensify irrigated rice and potatoes in Butaleja and Kabale districts, respectively. The PAR involves desk study and four three-day workshops where106 policy actors of the two districts took part. Results indicate that the combined use of scientific evidence, and local knowledge and perceptions in the identification and prioritization of challenges enhances the relevance and specificity of the bylaws, clarifies the respective roles and responsibilities of stakeholders for implementation, and increases sense of ownership of the bylaws. The PAR facilitates the development of bylaws which address challenges on cropping calendar, water management and transplanting in rice cropping systems; and challenges on production and marketing in the potato cropping systems.  Policy actors realize that the lack of participatory approaches in bylaw development in the past limited the consideration of the knowledge of local communities on a range of policy issues in the bylaws. For example, policy actors consider the integration of the seasonal calendars that local communities use into the bylaws for cropping calendar for irrigated rice. As well, the PAR process enables policy actors to learn the positive and negative outcomes of past efforts in policy and practice, to identify the existing policy gaps, and to capture the current needs and abilities of the local communities in a participatory process. The PAR also demonstrates the strength of using diverse sources of evidence, such as findings of governmental, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and international research institutions. The PAR further increases the implementation, acceptance, and ownership of the bylaws by the local communities. Given the benefits of PAR, the government and development partners could invest more resources in facilitating participatory and evidence-based development of bylaws, whereas the scientific community may need to strengthen their efforts to make scientific evidence accessible and relevant to policy actors.

Participatory science : a new way of producing actionable data.

martine legris - mart.revel@gmail.com - Lille 2 university - France

Over the last 20 years, the participation of lay-people or CSOs in processes of research and innovation has achieved the character of a guiding principle (cf. Epstein 1996; Brown et al. 2004; Frickel et al. 2010; Baldwin/Hippel 2011). CSOs are seen as agents of civil society, which are non-for-profit and oriented towards public’s interests. These involvements are attractive for civil society actors due to the opportunity to be involved in research agenda setting, and for researchers due to the access to specific knowledge and human resources. Accordingly, the European Union Commission perceives participation of civil society actors as a main opportunity for improving processes and impact of research and innovation (Felt/Wynne 2007; Schomberg 2013).


Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to show how contemporary modes of Civil Society Organization’s (CSO) participation in the scientific research are working in the European research programmes. Our study is based on a combined empirical study about the inclusion of CSOs on the basis of a quantitative survey of all 14.000+ European Commission FP7 projects in combination with a qualitative case-study analysis of 30 projects. We show that EU’s attempts to mainstream participation in research were quite successful as in 21% of all research projects in its 7th framework program participation activities took place. But we recognize diverging social and cognitive dynamics happening in such projects. We found out that there are six different types of research projects which include CSOs. These types are built on two dimensions, the social interaction form between CSOs and researchers (difference between marginal, balanced and central position of CSO) and the importance of CSOs for knowledge production (difference between focused or transformative). These types and their specific participation schemes as well as their governance challenges will be sketched as will be theoretical and practical consequences arising from them.

Research to policy links: Institutionalizing the loop in the context of BRAC

Mushtaque Chowdhury - mushtaque.chowdhury@brac.net - BRAC - Bangladesh

Linking research to development policy and actions has been a matter of considerable global interest and debate in recent years. How has research contributed to policy formulations and their implementation? Does research contributes to improved delivery of development interventions? Is the so-called ‘Science of Delivery’ (SoD) a new concept? How much of development policies are evidence-based? How much of research been institutionalized in the development sector? This paper tries to address these questions by referring to the work of BRAC, a large Southern non-governmental organization (NGO). Founded in 1972 in Bangladesh, BRAC has now become one of the largest NGOs in the world with its footprints in eleven countries of Africa and Asia (www.brac.net). BRAC works for poverty alleviation and empowerment of the poor and other marginalized groups including women and runs large-scale programs on microfinance, education and health. With over 120,000 staff and a huge army of volunteers, it reaches an estimated 138 million people in the countries it works. BRAC established a Research and Evaluation Division (RED) in 1975 that, over time, has grown and developed as a multidisciplinary independent research unit. It has been playing an important role in designing BRAC’s development interventions, monitoring progress, documenting achievements and undertaking impact assessments. It provides an analytical basis for BRAC’s programmatic decisions, fine-tuning it for better performance and making development efforts evidence-based, effective and community-sensitive. This paper uses specific examples to demonstrate how a close link between research, project planning and implementation can drive a dynamic process of development, both in the sense of economic and social development of communities and in the sense of institutional change and innovation within BRAC itself. For example, research on the distribution of benefits through microfinance demonstrated that it rarely reached the ‘ultra-poor’, that is, the bottom 10-15% of the population on the economic scale. They tend to have limited social assets which explains why they may not be included as members of self-selected microfinance groups. In 2002, this led directly to the introduction of a package of specific measures, centered on ‘asset transfer’, which has enabled millions to ‘graduate’ from ultra-poverty and has been replicated in dozens of countries. Results have been verified extensively through rigorous evaluation and are contributing to a continual global policy dialogue on the effectiveness of different approaches to ‘social safety nets’. In yet another example where BRAC implemented a nation-wide oral rehydration therapy (ORT) program for treating dehydrating diarrheas, the RED undertook dozens of studies to help the program improve its delivery thereby increase the usage of the therapy by mothers. Much due to this, Bangladesh now has the highest rate of ORT use in the world. The paper also touches on how organizational structures and culture aid or impede the reporting on results and nurturing an enabling environment.

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