I work as an academic, development practitioner and policy advisor in the need for closer relationships between researchers and research. The relationship between research and policy is not one-way. They may be parents making the decision on behalf of a child, or professionals who can provide. The Impact of Research on Development Policy and Practice: This Much We model), which underpins the traditional view of the link between research and.
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This is particularly true of the research program, and most particularly true in recent years as the size of the research budget has been constant or shrinking. Research is undertaken to answer questions or resolve problems; when the budget is limited, fewer questions or problems can be addressed.
This reduction in research can have negative consequences for HUD policy makers and the public; use- ful information is not available when it is relevant. The cost is real, albeit indirect and easily overlooked. The research activities in any given year will not cover all of the major program areas of HUD. But over time research has covered nearly all of them.
Policy development in any given year draws on the research activities of the last several years, and even longer.
Section 8 new construction; tenant-based assistance, with a focus on cost; housing vouchers, with a focus on program outcomes; the Community Development Block Grant CDBG formula; housing mar- ket discrimination; and regulation of the government sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
There is some overlap between the first two examples, since both programs were authorized under Section 8 inand some of the major research projects over the next several years covered both. Also, the second and third both concern the programs that provide assistance to households, tracing the development of policy along different dimensions and over somewhat different periods of time.
Housing assistance has routinely constituted well over one-half of the HUD budget. It differed from previous project-based subsidy programs in that the subsidy was explicitly based on the income of the assisted household.
The commitment to an income-conditioned subsidy was derived in part from Housing in the Seventies U. Department of Housing and Urban Development,the major study of previous subsidy programs.
The study did not recommend enacting a program like Section 8 new construction, but its recommendation for income-conditioned subsidies became part of the program. By the late s it was becoming clear to policy makers that the Section 8 New Construction Program was exceptionally expensive. The evaluation by Abt Associates Wallace et al.
With respect to outcomes, the evaluation found that the new construction program primarily served white elderly households and that few minority households participated; in contrast the certificate program was generally representative of the eligible population. The recommendations of the commission report were adopted by the administration, and inCongress repealed the Section 8 New Construction Program.A systems approach to policy development
The repeal applied to further projects. The inventory of Section 8 projects remained as assisted housing. By the early s, the question of whether and how to preserve these projects for their low-income residents became an important public policy concern.
Often there are tightly-worded contracts which control both the methods and the outputs of the research. Avorn describes a number of cases from the pharmaceutical industry in the US, where unfavourable findings from drug evaluations were suppressed by companies in order to gain federal approval for use. However, other groups also exert their power within the research process.
Power operates in complex ways and researchers also have to accept responsibility for the ways in which they control and shape the research process.
Bridging Research and Policy in Development: Evidence and the Change Process
The questions that are asked, the way they are asked and the people chosen to be research respondents or participants all influence what is learned. The respondents and participants also have some control over what is said and their level of participation, and ethical research should always allow them to stop taking part at any time, including, where possible, the retraction of any information already given.
What do you think about power and control in research? Is it fair that the people who pay for the research have a say in it?
Research mindedness: The relationship between research, policy and practice
Would you prefer for all research to be independent? What differences might funder control or researcher independence make to the development of research knowledge? Gatekeepers are those who are in a position to permit or deny researchers access to particular individuals or groups. They hold power over where research can take place and with whom. They may be parents making the decision on behalf of a child, or professionals who can provide initial access to service users or other practitioners who might want to take part in the research.
Organisations are, in effect, gatekeepers, and it is important to understand the reasons why they will or will not 'open the gate' for research. Some of the concerns they may express include that: A concern which largely goes unexpressed, but which researchers remain aware of, is the worry about what respondents might say about their care, an organisation or individuals and practices within it. Organisations recognise the power which comes from being a gatekeeper to a desired set of research data or contacts.
An organisation may have its own research agenda or policy towards research, and any proposal from a researcher may have to fit into this context to be accepted. Moreover, university researchers report structural barriers and disincentives to engaging in knowledge translation activities that might advise practice and policy formulation.
Secondly, impact is regarded differently by each community, with academics fretting over publications, citation counts and journal impact factors, while practitioners look for actionable advice that can be put to use for increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy. Beyond these underlying issues, several themes emerge from the literature. Researchers must have the intent to influence policy and practice for their results to do so. Intent should be written into the research design, but in the absence of other aspects, it will have limited impact.
Communication is the most cited factor for achieving impact; its various forms and processes, channels, timing and involvement pervading the literature and intermingling with the other themes.
Significantly, communication is regarded as much more than a mere conference presentation and peer-reviewed publication.