Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy

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Researchers can take proactive measures to increase the policy impact of their work. They should establish strong relationships with elected officials or government staff members, and learn to provide clear and concise summaries of existing scientific evidence to help policymakers to understand the options. Scientists and policymakers can also collaborate on projects aimed at real-world questions. The important thing is to be humble and open, Evans says. The first step, Evans says, is to connect with policymakers.

RC66 - Evidence-informed policy-making for health

Approaches such as reading the news and setting up Google alerts for relevant keywords are helpful, they say. Then, scientists can determine who in the policy world might be interested in particular aspects of their work and why, and how those people interact with one another. Evans recommends sketching a map of potential contacts that researchers can refine over time.


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Senior scientists with existing policy contacts can help early-career researchers to make connections. Scientists can also introduce themselves and their work to the legislators who represent their home districts.


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He also advises scientists to contact groups of lawmakers who are interested in the issues they study. For instance, members of the US Congress have created caucuses, or alliances, to advance neuroscience and planetary science.

Peter Gluckman, who was chief science adviser to the prime minister of New Zealand until June , says that for maximum impact, written letters highlighting an issue or providing science advice should come from a professional society, institute or national academy. Still, blogging and using social media can increase visibility for scientists and the issues they want to emphasize, Evans says, and Twitter can help in connecting with key policymakers. Researchers might also forge fruitful relationships with employees of the government agencies and departments that work to enact existing legislation.

Mach and her colleagues joined the effort at the invitation of the S.

Preserving Scientific Integrity in Federal Policymaking | Union of Concerned Scientists

Bechtel, Jr. But Mach says that scientists at any career stage can help to shape government programmes. One effective way, she says, is to submit letters and evaluations when officials solicit public feedback on proposed regulations or plans of action. She wanted to connect with state wildlife officials about her work on the future of streams in which cold-water fish live. She decided against organizing a session at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America because she knew that few managers would attend.

So she went to a conference hosted by the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, where she reserved a room and invited managers to stop and talk — and eat pizza.


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When scientists get involved in policy, they should be careful not to advocate for specific solutions, warns Gluckman. He knew that legislators had to balance many factors, including how the ban might affect sun-cream manufacturers.

Scientific Integrity in Public Policy

Facing strong public pressure, the lawmakers passed a permanent ban in May. Futures Volume 91 , August , Pages Author links open overlay panel Andrea Saltelli a b c Mario Giampietro a c d. Under a Creative Commons license. Keywords Evidence based policy. Recommended articles Citing articles 0. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Scientific Evidence and Policy Learning

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