Bridging research and policy in international development: an analytical and practical framework

Better use of research-based evidence in development policy and practice can help save lives, reduce poverty, and improve the quality of life. But for this to happen more effectively researchers need to do three things. First, they need to develop a detailed understanding of (a) the policy-making process – what are the key influencing factors, and how do they relate to each other?; (b) the nature of the evidence they have, or hope to get – is it credible, practical, and operationally useful?; and (c) all the other stakeholders involved in the policy area – who else can help to get the message across? Second, they need to develop an overall strategy for their work – identify political supporters and opponents; keep an eye out for, and be able to react to, policy windows; ensure the evidence is credible and practically useful; and build coalitions with like-minded groups. Third, they need to be entrepreneurial – get to know, and work with the policy makers, build long-term programmes of credible research, communicate effectively, use participatory approaches, identify key networkers and salespeople, and use shadow networks. Based on over five years of theoretical and case-study research, ODI’s Research and Policy in Development programme has developed a simple analytical framework and practical tools that can help researchers to do this.