How to increase the potential policy impact of your research 
Convener: Nilay Dogulu  | Co-conveners: Milena Raykovska , Lene Topp 
Research can have a beneficial impact on society. However, understanding and demonstrating the impact of your research often needs training and specific professional and personal skills. This short-course aims to introduce early career scientists to practices that can enhance their ability to use their knowledge to benefit society and thus to increase the potential policy impact of their research. At a more personal level, this can result in a higher level of personal satisfaction and increased opportunities at local, national and international levels.

Researchers often search for making a real difference in the world by influencing policy-making and contributing to improve economy, implement climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions for nature and people, co-build environmental policies and sustainable water-food-energy management practices, for instance. Showing the impact of your research can open new horizons and make a difference to people’s lives. However, it may take time until research results or the key messages from a research project resonate with the interests and agendas of policy-makers. Researchers need to develop communication and influencing skills to make their findings accessible and amplify their impact.

Also, there is often a major gap between the supply of, and demand for, policy-relevant research. This problem is not solved simply by employing excellent researchers and policymakers in the same organisation, or locating them in the same building. Rather, the gap relates primarily to key differences in the practices, expectations, incentives, language, and rules of researchers and policymakers, which is sometimes described as the ‘two communities’ problem. Training is therefore essential to develop skills and collect practical advice on maximising impact and building efficient teams of researchers, policy-makers and ‘knowledge brokers’.

Based on the Knowledge management for policy (KMP) initiative of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, built to promote a new ‘skills and training agenda’ to foster evidence-informed policy-making, this short course will provide an introduction to the eight skills that are recommended to produce efficient teams of people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and complementary skills (presented in detail in Topp et al., 2018):

1. research synthesis, to generate ‘state of the art’ knowledge on a policy problem,
2. management of expert communities, to maximise collaboration,
3. understanding policymaking, to know when and how to present evidence,
4. interpersonal skills, to focus on relationships and interaction,
5. engagement, to include citizens and stakeholders,
6. effective communication of knowledge,
7. monitoring and evaluation, to identify the impact of evidence on policy,
8. policy advice, to know how to present knowledge effectively and ethically.

In this short course, participants will get hands-on experience with some of the new skills through interactive games in real-life settings.

Topp, L., D. Mair, L. Smillie & P. Cairney (2018) Knowledge management for policy impact: the case of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. Palgrave Communications, Vol. 4 (87), 2018.