Making Policy Research Conducive to Policy Change: No Simple Recipe!


by A4NH and PIM

(Cross-posted on the PIM website.)

How can research generate policy-relevant evidence? How can we increase the likelihood that evidence is used effectively by decision-makers? How can researchers ensure that research serves as a “catalyst” to boost the effectiveness of policies and programs?

M. Mitchell/IFPRI

M. Mitchell/IFPRI

From November 18-20th, a group of more than 50 policy experts, researchers, and practitioners from the agriculture, natural resource management, nutrition, and health sectors convened at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC to try and answer some of these tough questions during the “Workshop on Approaches and Methods for Policy Process Research. This event was co-sponsored by the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), both led by IFPRI.


M. Mitchell/IFPRI

The workshop objectives included the following:

  • To increase the capacity of CGIAR Research Programs to generate policy-relevant evidence;
  • To increase the likelihood that evidence is effectively used by decisionmakers;
  • To develop guidance and understanding on how to use research evidence to influence and engage with policy processes; and
  • To evaluate the contribution of research to policy formulation and implementation.

Through a combination of keynote addresses, case studies and presentations, and working group sessions, participants learned about the state of the art and got feedback on ongoing work on policy analysis and influence. Workshop participants grappled with the challenges of doing research in complex systems and identified areas that could benefit from further engagement with external experts.  Discussion topics included, among others, examining trade-offs in benefits, harms, and risk in policy decisionmaking, the need for both generalizable policy lessons and a grounded, contextual understanding of local realities,  the need for mixed method research approaches that accommodate complexity, and the difficulty of measuring and evaluating the impacts and outcomes of policy-oriented research. Over the course of the three days, participants made new connections and strengthened existing networks, building a foundation for a much-needed community of practice focused on this topic.

The organizers will explore developing toolkits to introduce other researchers to useful methods for conducting rigorous and thoughtful research on this topic, including a focus on participatory action research.


Additional workshop resources

  • Click  here  to view the event overview and agenda.