The Overseas Development Institute, as part of its Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme, has been looking at the links between research and policy for several years. It is now beginning a process of identifying, developing, distributing and delivering tools, resources and training support that can help researchers access policy processes, with the aim of using their research to contribute to more evidence-based and pro-poor policy.
This handbook presents work-in-progress on tools for policy impact, specifically geared towards the needs of researchers. The tools are grouped under the headings Research Tools, Context Assessment Tools, Communication Tools, and Policy Influence Tools.
Overall, the RAPID programme aims to improve the use of research and evidence in development policy and practice through research, advice and debate. The programme has four main themes:
- The use of evidence in policy identification, development and implementation;
- Improving communication and information systems for development agencies;
- How better knowledge management can enhance the impact of development agencies;
- Promotion and capacity building for evidence-based policy.
- The handbook is particularly targeted at civil society organisations, or the parts of them, whose activities involve gathering evidence, doing research, learning lessons or advising on strategy for social, environmental and economic development in the North and South. We could call them evidence based development civil society organisations, but refer to them as think tanks as a shorthand.
- This group might include organisations more used to interest-group campaigning and advocacy (e.g. for the rights of landless labourers), but who have a rich source of knowledge on the issue that they wish to communicate to policy in a constructive and co-operative influencing style – in contrast to more confrontational strategies. The group might equally include research institutes and university departments who have a large body of research but have difficulty packaging it for policy-makers. All these organisations have important insight yet many of them are not experienced in policy influencing skills, and do not have access to tools, resources or training materials to help them reach this goal.
The tools that are included in this handout have been presented with the ‘context, evidence, links’ framework in mind. Tools related to research come first, thereafter context assessment tools and communication tools, and finally, we round off with policy influence tools. The RAPID framework is also included as a conceptual framework for analysis tool.