23 March 2012

Impact of Academic Research on Policy

Do policymakers pay attention to academic research findings? A recent opinion piece in Embassy Magazine suggests otherwise, at least in the Canadian context: "Canadian policy-making on refugee issues is ignoring the evidence of leading researchers in the field. Empirical research that would improve refugee legislation and the practices of our refugee determination system is being overlooked to the detriment of refugees and the Canadian public."

One example of a newly published study with recommendations for reform based on empirical findings is: The Luck of the Draw? Judicial Review of Refugee Determinations in the Federal Court of Canada (2005-2010), Osgoode CLPE Research Paper 9/2012 (Osgoode Hall Law School, 2012). Here's the abstract:

This working paper offers an empirical examination of judicial review in Canada’s Federal Court in the refugee law context. Drawing on a dataset of over 23,000 applications for judicial review of refugee determinations from 2005 to 2010, the paper examines whether outcomes in these life-and-death applications turn on their merits, or whether, instead, they hinge on which judge is assigned to decide the application. The paper reveals that outcomes over the past five years frequently came down to the luck of the draw, with, for example, one judge more than 50 times as likely to grant applications than another judge. Based on these findings, the author offers several recommendations for reform to enhance fairness and consistency in this important area of law.

So will this study have any impact? And how can that impact be measured? Below is a list of resources that discuss, variously, whether or not the impact of research on policy can even be achieved, and methods for achieving that elusive impact.

Academic Knowledge, Policy and the Public Role of Social Scientists: The Case of Migration and Development, COMCAD Working Paper, no. 71 (Center on Migration, Citizenship and Development, 2010) [text]

At Open-Access Meeting, Advocates Emphasize the Impact of Sharing Knowledge (Wired Campus, Nov. 2011) [text]

FRA Research Methodology: Delivering Evidence-based Advice (European Agency for Fundamental Rights, Aug. 2011) [text via Refworld]

Handbook on Maximizing the Impacts of Your Research (LSE Public Policy Group, 2011) [text]

"How Information Scarcity Influences the Policy Agenda: Evidence from U.K. Immigration Policy," Governance, Early View, 28 Feb. 2012 [abstract]

How to Convert "Social Media Reach" to "Impact" (ICT-KM Blog, June 2011) [text]

Impact of Social Sciences Blog [access]
- Focuses on "maximizing the impact of academic research."

Linking Research and Policy in the Field of Migration, Asylum and Integration, Vienna, 12 Dec. 2011 [info]

Making Systematic Reviews Work for International Development Research (ODI, Jan. 2012) [text]
- See also related blog post.

The Political Uses of Expert Knowledge: Immigration Policy and Social Research (Cambridge University Press, 2009; paperback version avail. May 2012) [info]
- See also recent book review in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

"The Use of Social Science Research to Inform Policy Development: Case Studies from Recent Immigration Policy," Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, vol. 5, no. 1 (May 2010) [full-text]

Why Academics Should Learn How to Influence Government Policy (Social Science Space, June 2011) [text]

Workshop: Use of Information and Data for Enhanced Communication and Advocacy, Budapest, 17-18 March 2011 [info]
- Audio from this event is available via the link above; more information can be found via this blog post]

[Image credit: "Research Impact on Social Policy," CLS Impact]

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