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Research and policy Global Development Network Topic Guide

In 2013 P&I, jointly with CIPPEC and Mendizabal Limited on behalf of GDNet, published Research and policy Global Development Network Topic Guide.

‘Evidence-based policy’ has become something of a holy grail for policymakers intent on formulating pragmatic, effective policies which work on the basis of evidence rather than ideology. In the last decade it has increasingly been seen as both an indicator of and way of attaining ‘good governance’ across the world, and in developing countries in particular. The evidence-based policy agenda has been widely purported by international donors, who view it as a way of building the capacity of governments to formulate and implement pro-poor policies which target poverty reduction and ensure the responsible allocation of resources.

Also known as ‘evidence-informed’ policy, moves towards policies based on evidence have provided researchers, including those from think tanks, universities, and research institutes, with an opportunity to ensure that policies in developing countries are at least informed, to a degree, with some form of research-based evidence. Equally, pressure has been placed upon policymakers to move beyond policy expediency, and instead engage with research findings in order to arrive at decisions. The research-to-policy literature is vast, encompassing all policy sectors and all regions of the globe, and is therefore written from a number of perspectives for a variety of audiences, including researchers; policymakers; and donors.

This guide is concerned with the relationship between research and policy, and is predicated on the belief that policy should be based – or at least informed by – policy. It therefore presents some of theoretical basis upon which the evidence-based policy agenda is formed, as well as the relevant critiques of this approach. It considers, from the point of view of the researcher, how to influence policy using research, while offering guidance on how to approach the building of capacity in this field.

The guide is organised under five key headings (Research agenda and prodution; Research in the policy process; The communication of research; The M&E of policy research; and capacity building) and a number of pertinent sub-topics identified by the research team. Key texts and perspectives on each of the issues have been selected and presented in summary form, alongside an introductory overview of each issue discussed.

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