December 16, 2016


Call for papers for the Evidence and Policy Special Issue: Networks in Evidence, Policy and Practice

The evidence-policy relationship is complex, and affected by many factors, including relationships and interpersonal networks (Haynes 2011, Lewis 2006). These networks are affected by political, social, economic, and legislative contexts (Lavis 2003, Lomas and Brown 2009), and the characteristics and agency of actors (Callon 1999, Faul 2015). We know that patterns of social interactions, or networks, underpin policy processes (Oliver 2012), yet the role of these networks is not yet well characterised.

The Special Issue proposed examines the utility of network approaches in evidence and policy. Understanding the structure and nature of the ties linking policy [and evidence?] actors can inform us about how knowledge exchange occurs (Haynes 2011, Oliver 2012), the conditions under which evidence can inform policy (Ingold 2011, Christopolous 2011, Fischer 2011), or which salient actors are involved in and excluded from decision-making (Faul 2015) Network concepts and approaches therefore open up new perspectives on the question of how policy and evidence interact. In addition to being a field of significant academic inquiry, “networks” in evidence, policy and practice have also been applied in a more practical sense. Interventions aiming to promote the development and use of networks to disseminate evidence and evidence-informed behaviours are increasingly frequently described in the literature (Valente 2009, Christakis 2013). Networks are also described as a means to bring policy and evidence “communities” together by creating links between individuals and organisations.

We invite papers on all aspects of studying networks and policy, including (but not limited to):

  • theoretical or methodological questions, such as the use of network metrics to identify key players in policy processes, typologies of network measures and ties which illuminate the policy process, or multi-modal networks and their role in understanding evidence-based policy making
  • substantive cases, such as the role of think-tanks or other formal and informal institutions in policy, individual cases of policy and/or evidence networks, or the role of elites in influencing knowledge and power within policy
  • The roles of intermediaries and other types of actors on the structure and effectiveness of evidence and policy networks
  • comparative cases, in which multiple approaches and cases are compared
  • practical descriptions of how networks have been created and implemented, and the effects of such networks on the use of research evidence

This special issue will bring together theoretical, methodological and contemporary empirical work exploring the use of network approaches to understand the relationship between evidence and policy. We seek to provoke discussion on the utility of network approaches for understanding policy and evidence, the limitations to such approaches, and the likely next steps for collaborative research.

All papers must be submitted online at by 1 March 2017 and include a note specifying that the paper is being submitted for this special issue.

Please consult the Journal’s Instructions for Authors: