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What is policy engagement?

Why is policy engagement important for researchers and where can you start?

'Policy engagement' is a broad term used to describe activities and routes that researchers, academics and policymakers can engage in to connect and explore common interests. These can happen at different stages in research projects and at different stages in the policymaking process.

Policy engagement enables researchers and policymakers to improve public policy through making the most of academic evidence, expertise and experience.

Why engage policymakers in your research?

There are a number of reasons why policy engagement can be an important component of your research. These include:

  • Generating impact: Engaging with policymakers can help your research to make a difference to the world by putting your knowledge and understanding of the issues at the disposal of those who are making the relevant policy decisions.
  • Providing accountability: Demonstrating the value of publicly funded research
  • Improving evidence-informed policymaking: Helping to improve the use of evidence by policymakers to ensure decisions and policies reflect the latest knowledge.
  • Facilitating two-way knowledge exchange: Helping to inform policymaking based on the best available evidence, generating new insights to emerging issues, new learning, informing research design as well as inspiration for further research, providing access to ‘real’ government insights and data.

Where to start with policy engagement?

Effective policy engagement requires effort over time and should not be considered a one-off activity. Policy change or impact is often a slow and incremental process, and should be viewed as a long-term investment in your academic career.

Successful policy engagement requires you to be proactive and agile in building and sustaining relevant relationships with policymakers and policy decision-makers. It also requires an understanding of the different ways to communicate and position your research with relevant policy audiences.

These policy engagement guides aim to help you understand UK policymaking processes and to provide clear links to different routes for you to engage with policymakers and policy processes which may be relevant to your work.

An introduction to policymaking:

Routes to policy engagement:

Learning from others:

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