Why academics should learn how to influence government policy

If academics want to influence policy in their areas of expertise, they must engage with policymakers.

Back in 2008, a report by the Council for Science and Technology said "healthy engagement between academics and policymakers is essential to the provision of informed, evidence-based, world-class policymaking".

But it is only in the past few months that the debate over how universities should actively seek to inform the policy process has come into the foreground.

The new "impact" element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) has been the spur to action.The ability to prove that rigorous academic research has influenced the decisions of government policy advisers is destined to score highly in an assessment of societal and economic impact.

During a recent framework and impact conference at Bournemouth University, Kathryn Monk, science strategy manager for Environment Agency Wales, said policymakers are looking to academia to devote more energy to feeding research into the policy domain in the light of spending cuts that have reduced the numbers of government academics.

The killer line came next: "But things are going to have to change to allow this to happen."

Publication Date: 
9 June 2011
Journal Name: 
United Kingdom