[Editor’s note: This is the fourth 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 fourth respondent is María Elena Quilodran, Director of Social Policy Analysis and Evaluation at the Ministry of Social Development in Honduras.]
1. What are the most important lessons about research and policy that you could draw from 2013 to use in 2014?
In Honduras, policy-related research is just emerging. This kind of research has to be carried out along the policy process, that is, formulation, implementation and evaluation. However, policy formulation is generally emphasized, which provides comprehensive diagnoses for a wide range of public problems that require new policies. Some good examples of research for policy formulation can be found in the Social Protection Policy, the Comprehensive Care for Young Infants Policy and the Policy for People with Disabilities and their Social Integration. There are comprehensive diagnoses that indicate quite accurately what needs to be done. Moreover, these policies, which were formulated between 2012 and 2013 resulted from wide consensus between important actors in government, the civil society and international cooperation, which underpinned its validation process.
2. What is the most important challenge for you in terms of promoting the use of research in policy in 2014?
To strengthen research with respect to implementing policy and evaluating it. This will enable the experience and knowledge that results from actual execution and evaluation of policy to feed into a more efficient policy process.
3. What could we do more collectively?
Improving the quality of data is one of the biggest collective challenges, since it often undermines research advancement. In addition, it is important to engage academia in the policy process in general to awaken scholars’ curiosity, especially with issues that are often seen by them as purely bureaucratic and not scientific.
Likewise, it is important to keep a sort of ‘open line’ to communicate with policy research actors in other countries that have already achieved some development, in order to be in touch with different experiences, to have counterparts with whom to discuss, and to hace access to additional research sources.
An additional priority would be to develop capacity locally for research on formulation, implementation and evaluation of policy, either through face-to-face or online initiatives, considering that currently there are no established training programmes in Honduras.