Short course: Designing policy relevant research agendas

Organised by On Think Tanks
Event type Courses
Location Online
Start date 2 May 2017
End date 30 May 2017

One of the most important strategic functions of a think tank is designing and conducting its research agenda. Although we often talk about research agendas, we don’t often discuss what these actually are, how they are designed and how they should evolve over time.

A successful research agenda has three basic considerations in its design: the capacities and areas of interests of its members, policy context and the concerns and interests of external stakeholders. Furthermore, a think tank’s research agenda must be designed to be regularly updated, both to respond to changing policy contexts and to shape the day to day workings of an organisation.

With all this in mind, the On Think Tanks School designed this short course to help both experienced and beginner thinktankers design and draft a policy relevant research agenda which considers the needs of all stakeholders. The course trainers, will introduce practical methods meant to maintain a research agenda current and responsive to changing policy contexts. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with fellow thinktankers, exchange ideas and concerns and receive practical and theoretical advice from two think tank experts with years of experience in the field.

Objectives of the course:

  • Guide participants through the process of updating or drafting their personal and institutional research agendas
  • Provide an overview of the methods available to incorporate the interests of  all stakeholders when planning a policy relevant research agenda
  • Discuss the organisational arrangements required to maintain a research agenda current, particularly in fast changing policy contexts

Who is this for?

The course is designed for thinktankers who are creating a new research agenda or updating their current one. Likewise, researchers, communicators, and practitioners who wish to join the course will benefit from developing skills related to designing institutional agendas.

The course includes:

A background note on policy-relevant research agendas

An ongoing exchange forum to engage with the trainers and participants

Two webinars:

Webinar 1: Internal processes for drafting research agendas

  • Exploring personal and institutional agendas
  • Strategic choices for a policy relevant research agenda
  • Planning and drafting a research agenda for a think tank

Webinar 2: Engagement with stakeholders

  • Recognising the critical aspects of the context where a think tank works
  • Determining who the most important stakeholders are
  • Strategically choosing how to engage with stakeholders considering the political context
  • Identifying new trends in policy debates at the global and regional level, which can have important implications for national policy debates, new funding and impact opportunities

The personal task: to plan a research agenda drafting process and a stakeholder engagement strategy

Course dynamic

The course includes a combination of theoretical materials, webinars led by trainers, a forum for ongoing discussion with trainers and participants and a practical exercise. The course kicks off with a background note and the launch of the online forum. Two webinars will take place through an online platform and will be recorded for those participants who cannot attend the webinar dates. The online forum is available through the duration of the course for peer exchange. Participants will submit a personal task by the end of the course, which will receive personalised feedback from the trainers. Trainers will also share reading materials and other resources. Finally, a certificate of participation will be given to participants who submit their personal tasks.

Key dates

Kick-off: May 2nd, 2017

Webinar 1: May 9th, 2017

Webinar 2: May 23rd, 2017

Delivery of exercise: May 30th, 2017

 The time for the webinars is 3 PM GMT

 Webinars last 90 minutes


OnThinkTank_Feb 17__CL_9605_Claudia LeisingerAndrea Ordoñez:

Andrea is an associate of Politics & Ideas were she has co-developed a training strategy for researchers interested in policy relevance. She is Research Coordinator for Southern Voice, a network of think tanks devoted to influencing the Sustainable Development Goals. She has 10 years of experience carrying out policy relevant research and coordinating national and international research agendas within and across think tanks. She is an economist by training and is interested in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Andrea has developed research projects and policy proposals for the public sector and has carried out institutional and sectoral assessments for international organisations.

OnThinkTank_Feb 17__CL_9534_Claudia LeisingerLeandro Echt
: Leandro is the Coordinator of the On Think Tanks School and Editor for Latin America at On Think Tanks. He is also the General Coordinator of Politics & Ideas. Leandro works on the policy and research field, engaging with think tanks, NGOs, and public agencies interested in linking evidence with public decisions, particularly in developing countries, through a mix of capacity building, mentoring and consultancy activities (such as evaluation of programs and organisational assessments) and complemented by research initiatives. He was the Coordinator of the Influence, Monitoring and Evaluation Program at the Argentinean think tank Center for the Implementation of Public Policies promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC).


The short course costs GBP 125.00. You may also join by signing up to the entire series of 7 Short Courses at GBP 700.00 for the series.

Early bird registration fee for the course is GBP 105.00 (only for first five registrations) and for the entire series is GBP 600.00 (only for first five registrations).

Check out other Courses in the Evolving Think Tanks Series.

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