Campaign launches online tool-kit to link evidence and policymaking in Wales

19 October 2017

The Campaign for Social Science has today launched a new online tool-kit Pathways to impact: a practical guide for researchers, in collaboration with Cardiff University.

The online tool-kit is designed to help new researchers improve their political impact by providing guidance to link social science evidence more closely to the policy making process, with a focus on the Welsh Government and National Assembly for Wales.

A series of straightforward recommendations outlines how to make sure research stands out and is most effectively put into action by civil servants, parliamentarians, and Ministers. There are four broad themes: understanding the political context and landscape; engagement and maximising impact; credibility and independence; overcoming obstacles.

Dr Ashley Thomas Lenihan, Senior Policy Adviser at the Campaign for Social Science, and author of the report, said:

“There is often a mismatch between the supply of research and its demand among policymakers. This means there’s a risk we’re answering complicated questions without the best evidence available, with potentially wide-ranging consequences.

“If we are to take on any of the challenges we’re facing in Wales and across the UK, from productivity and an ageing population, to pressures on the NHS and climate change, we need a rigorous evidence-base at the heart of policymaking. Social science insight and expertise plays a central role in facilitating that and addressing many of these issues.

“The Campaign for Social Sciences’ ‘Pathways to Impact’ toolkit will help researchers and decision makers alike navigate the complex process of making sure the right evidence finds its way into the right policies. At the same time, its practical guidelines will help create stronger links between academics and politicians, maximising the impact of social science research for public benefit.”

The Pathways to Impact tool-kit is the first online resource of its kind with a focus on Wales. It is the culmination of nearly a year of research, including practical advice from interviews with both Welsh policymakers and experienced researchers.

The project is the latest in the Campaign’s work to promote the role of social science expertise in policymaking, including its most recent report The Health of People, looking at how social science can improve public health.

The tool-kit will be launched today at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff, before an audience of Welsh Government and Assembly Members, civil servants, researchers and academics. The event will include an introduction from Huw Irranca-Davies AM, AM for Ogmore and Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Universities, and case studies from Professor Emma Renold and Dr Peter Mackie.