Thursday, August 30, 2012

The effectiveness of policy briefs

Below is an excerpt from a very interesting paper on the effectiveness of policy briefs (which are basically an evidence-based specific topic focused writing that can be read and understood by people having some interest in the issues explored)  done by Beynon et al. at ODI. Read the full paper here.

[…]Most of the factors that influence research uptake are beyond the control of research communicators. But one factor that is within their control is the design and dissemination of the documents they produce for policy audiences. In particular, the design of their policy briefs.

[…]Using a randomised control design, this study explored the effectiveness of one popular research communication tool, a policy brief, and queried whether different versions of a brief bring about different results. We find that the policy brief had little effect on changing the beliefs of readers who held strong prior beliefs on entering the study, but had some potential to create evidence-accurate beliefs among readers holding no prior beliefs. Also, when it comes to beliefs, the impact of the policy brief seems to be independent of the specific form of the policy brief. However, different versions of the brief (versions that include a research Opinion with or without a suggestion that the opinion is from an Authoritative source) do achieve different results when it comes to prompting actions. We find that other factors internal and external to the brief (gender of the reader, reader’s self-perceived level of influence and the extent to which the reader feels ‘convinced’ by the brief) are also linked to action.

It should be pretty useful for NGOs and think-tanks that are wondering how to make their research effective at policy level (evidence-informed policymaking) as well as to influence public discourse on a particular issue.