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Imagining a better 2014 (3) – by Andrea Ordoñez

Better 2014 P&I 2

[Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of posts called ‘Imagining a better 2014’ that brings together reflections from a number of researchers and practitioners on the most important lessons and future challenges for promoting the use of research in policy.

Our third respondent is Andrea Ordóñez, independent researcher based in Quito-Ecuador, Politics & Ideas Associate and Research Coordinator for Southern Voice (southernvoice-postmdg.org).

1. What are the most important lessons about research and policy that you could draw from 2013 to use in 2014?

The most important lesson from last year has been that the link between research and policy must be clearly understood before a research project starts as I have suggested in a previous post. Time after time I meet researchers who, after finishing a project, are seeking to place it in the policy context without really grasping the complexities of such settings.

Reflecting on my own training as a researcher I think that many times what we learn about research methods is not sufficient to face the challenges of framing sound and relevant questions for public policy debates. In other words, we need to re-train our way of thinking. As a result I am increasingly interested in finding innovative ways to invite researchers to think outside the box of the traditional way of formulating research projects.

2. What is the most important challenge for you in terms of promoting the use of research in policy in 2014?

I think that from the perspective of researchers our challenges are:

– Making better use of existing research. In many cases there is a lot that has already been said and done.  As researchers we should improve our capacities to make sense, gauge and use existing knowledge. This is a skill that will become more and more important as the amount of research increases.  Making sense of the existing knowledge is a key aspect of really linking research (not only ours) and policy.

– Thinking outside the box. As said before, I am convinced that this year, we will face the challenge of really approaching the policy challenges through more creative mental frameworks.  I totally agree with Ramón on the challenges our policymaking processes face, and that other type of knowledge is required to face them.

3. What could we do more collectively?

In 2014, I would love to see more joint research, and by these I mean collaborations to understand what we are doing to connect research and policy. We can study each other, for example through action research, appraisals and so on.  I think that there are many lessons to be learned if we work as peers to understand more in-depth our strategies to link research and policies and their challenges.