Bridging the research/policy gap: policy officials' perspectives on the barriers and facilitators to effective links between academic and policy worlds

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Abstract

Evidence-based policy has become rhetoric for many western governments across a broad range of health and social policy areas. However, the transfer and uptake of academic research in policy contexts has often been problematic. Academics frequently argue that policy makers ignore the research they produce, while policy makers argue that academic research is seldom relevant to their needs. Research relationships and collaborations have long been regarded as key strategies to create pathways for research into policy contexts. They are also understood to better support the application of research in understanding policy issues, and in designing and implementing policy initiatives. This paper reports on findings from a large scale project, which targeted public servants undertaking policy work in Australian federal and state departments to investigate their experiences around the availability and use of academic social research. The paper explores the relevance of networks and linkages between academics and public servants in supporting research transfer and uptake. Reported barriers and facilitators to linkages are outlined. The paper concludes that a research-informed understanding of the factors and processes that promote and prevent effective linkages between academics and policy officials is needed to develop more realistic efforts to address the research/policy gap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-630
Number of pages20
JournalPolicy Studies
Volume35
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2014

Keywords

  • knowledge transfer
  • linkages
  • policy officials
  • research relationships
  • research utilisation

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