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Campaign and Cardiff launch tool-kit to link evidence and policymaking

25 October 2017


The University and the Campaign for Social Science have worked together to develop a new online tool-kit designed to help new researchers improve their political impact.

'Pathways to Impact: a practical guide for researchers' provides providing guidance to link social science evidence more closely to the policy making process, with a focus on the Welsh Government and the 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.

Professor Rick Delbridge, Dean of Research, Innovation and Enterprise at Cardiff University, which funded the project, said: "Cardiff University has made a commitment to support the Campaign and its activities in promoting and recognising social science as a key element of the academy and a key contributor to society..."

"This toolkit will build on our investments, for example, in Y Lab and the Wales Centre for Public Policy which demonstrate our belief that social science research is central in delivering more effective evidence-based policymaking and public service in Wales and beyond."

Professor Rick Delbridge Professor of Organizational Analysis

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 was launched in Cardiff Bay before an audience of Welsh Government and Assembly Members, civil servants, researchers and academics and was sponsored by Huw Irranca-Davies, AM for Ogmore and Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Universities. The event also included case studies from Professor Emma Renold, School of Social Sciences, and Dr Peter Mackie, School of Geography and Planning.

The Campaign for Social Science was set up by the Academy of Social Sciences in 2011 to raise the profile of social science by informing and influencing public policy with social science evidence and championing the benefits of investment in social science education and research.

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