Policy@Sussex supports researchers to maximise the impact of their research by providing guidance and connecting them with key decision makers.
Why engage with policymakers?
Engaging with policymaking process is one way to translate your research into action. Policymakers and civil servants seek evidence and information from experts to help inform their decisions, often relying on academic research to highlight problems and propose solutions.
How we can help
The Policy@Sussex team can help you find the right time, place, format, and audience for presenting your research – maximising your impact and ensuring your research is seen an understood by key policy actors.
Our tailored support includes:
- Planning policy engagement
- Stakeholder mapping
- Monitoring opportunities to participate in policy processes
- Enabling engagement with Parliament and the civil service
- Expertise on communicating your research to policy-focused audiences
- Advice on tracking impact and gathering evidence
Planning for policy impact
It’s never too early to consider the impact potential of your research. From the outset, you will need to consider:
- Why is this topic important now?
- How could your research shape policy?
- Who are your main stakeholders – who are you trying to influence, who do they listen to, and what relationships do you have with them already?
- How can you work with intermediaries, such as third sector organisations or service providers, to help influence discussions and decisions?
- How will you measure the success of your policy engagement work?
Elements of effective policy impact and influence
Policy@Sussex can help with all stages of influencing policy – from planning to engaging and monitoring.
- Text alternative for elements of effective policy impact and influence chart (above)
- impact strategies and plans
- impact statements for grant bids
- advice on budgeting
- impact-specific funding applications
- identifying stakeholders
- mapping influencers
- political tracking
- planning upcoming opportunities
- engagement follow up
- preparing for policymaker meetings
- connecting with political officials
- written or oral evidence
- inquiry/consultation responses
- publishing on Policy@Sussex blog
- media engagement
- producing materials
- developing policy-relevant messages
- impact narratives (funders/REF)
- impact tracking tools
- gathering impact evidence.
Find out more about key things you can do to influence policy below.
- How to write a research or policy briefing
Policy briefings help to influence policy thinking and decisions by presenting accessible, timely research insights and evidence on a particular subject. They can either be proactive or responsive to particular policy agendas.
Research briefings explain the intent of your research to potential stakeholders, and can be useful at the start of a research project.
- Working with select committees
Select committees hold the government to account. They are made up of cross-party backbench MPs or Peers, and work in both the House of Commons and House of Lords.
Their main role is to conduct inquiries on a range of subjects – from particular policy areas to the conduct of the government. They do so by inviting written and oral evidence from witnesses. If a select committee is investigating a subject that relates to your research, you may wish to submit evidence to influence the committee’s recommendations.
If you are invited to give evidence, our Public Affairs team will be happy to provide more advice. You can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Getting your research into parliament
Sarah Foxon from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has written an excellent blog outlining how to get your research findings into parliament.
She points out that, due to the complex nature of policymaking, simply presenting research results to policymakers and expecting them to act on the findings is unlikely to be successful.
While there is no definitive recipe for successful policy impact, success is more likely if you:
- focus on current policy problems and ensure your research has clear objectives
- engage with policymakers throughout the research process, from identifying the problem to undertaking the research and drawing out recommendations
- understand the political factors that may enhance or impede uptake, and develop appropriate strategies to address them
- invest in communication and engagement activities, and build strong relationships with key stakeholders (see How to engage with policy audiences below)
- How to engage with policy audiences
To find out more about the range of policy engagement opportunities and how to present your research to policy audiences, watch this online workshop, delivered by Charlotte Humma, University of Sussex Business School Research Communications Manager
- Turn your research paper into a blog
Blogs are valuable tools for communicating research findings to decision makers – putting you in charge of the message and bringing your ideas to new audiences. Follow these tips to ensure you make the most of the blog format.
Structure of a blog
In short, blogs should be concise and easy to read. Their structure is almost the inverse of an academic paper in so far as they begin with a key statement based on your findings and conclusions, and you can skip the methodology and literature review section entirely. Make sure you include:
Headline: Summarise your main finding or argument in one short sentence
Introduction: The key to a good blog is to express an opinion, insight or provide new information. To do this, make your key point straight away. You could include a though-provoking question, statistic or quote to introduce the subject and engage the reader. Then set out your main argument in one or two sentences. If you can summarise it in 280 characters or fewer, this makes it easy to share on Twitter.
Main body: The next few paragraphs should be based on the key findings and arguments.
- Provide some context, for example, what has changed recently; why is the subject interesting?; what do you bring to it that is new?
- Explain your core findings, argument or conclusion
- Provide some details to explain and expand your argument
- Include up to three infographics, charts, tables or photos – make sure they are easy to understand, clearly labelled and in colour
Conclusion: Finish by summing up your argument in a new way and introduce any recommendations or next steps.
Links and bio: Include a link to your original article – both in the body of the text and separately at the end of the blog. Also provide a short bio of yourself (and your institution if desired) with links to your webpage and social media accounts.
Hints and tips
Express an opinion – don’t sit on the fence The best opinion pieces challenge readers and may make them question their own beliefs.
Find a ‘hook’ Before you start writing, try to answer this question: why would somebody be interested in reading this article at this particular time?
- Keep your writing brief, simple and to the point for maximum impact
- Write in short paragraphs
- Consider your intended audience, and avoid any words or phrases that are unfamiliar to less specialist readers
- Spell out acronyms the first time you use them
- Use hyperlinks
Policy engagement case studies
From protecting freedom of religious belief to exposing the funding of nuclear weapons, read our case studies that demonstrate our success in engaging with and influencing the policy process.
Find out more
You can get in touch with any of the Policy@Sussex networkmembers:
Contacts by school
Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Education and Social Work
Media, Arts and Humanities
If the school you wish to contact is not listed, please contact on: email@example.com.
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