Communicating research to policymakers: the experiences of four PopPov researchers

Kate Belohlav, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
Marlene A. Lee, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)

Policymakers and advocates agree that using evidence to inform decisions is essential for good policymaking and program design. Despite this agreement and considerable investments in communicating research findings to inform and empower decisionmakers, many researchers continue to encounter challenges. Further, no universal framework on successful research and policy communication exists, though studies have found that a successful dissemination strategy includes a range of communication approaches. This paper highlights the experiences of four research teams from the Population and Poverty (PopPov) Research Network who sought to bring evidence to policymakers in Burkina Faso, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia. In addition to funding research, the PopPov Research Initiative, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, has focused on bringing researchers and policymakers together to explore the existing research-to-policy gaps and to develop effective strategies for communicating study findings. Efforts by these four PopPov research teams reflect a diverse set of policy engagement efforts, including connecting directly with policymakers, partnering with advocacy organizations, and writing and disseminating policy briefs. Each team took a unique approach to its policy engagement strategy, and encountered different challenges throughout the process. The results have been promising, with clear contributions to the policy debate, policymaker requests for additional research, and some policies shifting. Documenting the experiences, challenges and successes of these research teams may provide insights to researchers who seek to generate evidence that can be used to shape policy.

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Presented in Poster Session 1