January 19, 2017


Short course: Designing policy relevant research agendas

On Think Tanks Online
start date: May 2, 2017 end date: May 30, 2017

This course focuses on one of the most important strategic functions of a think tank: designing and conducting its research agenda, a vital part of its DNA. The concept of a research agenda is frequently used among the think tanks’ community, but very few times we discuss what a research agenda is, where it comes from and how it evolves over time. Defining a research agenda can be challenging for both experienced, and beginner think tankers.

While a research agenda must take into consideration the capacities and interests of the members of the think tank, the broad policy context and the concerns and interests of the external stakeholders are also key ingredients. The course will also provide an overview of the possible methods to incorporate the insights from both internal and external stakeholders in the planning of a research agenda.

Finally, a think tank’s research agenda, like other strategic processes, must be kept alive to have a significant impact on the day to day activities of a think tank. We will discuss the organizational arrangements required to maintain such agenda alive, especially in fast changing policy contexts.

Who is this for?

The primary audience is think-tankers who are creating a new agenda or updating their current one. Researchers, communicators, and practitioners can benefit from developing skills related to innovating institutional agendas.


This short course consists of the following:

  • A background note on how to design policy-relevant research agendas.
  • An online forum to share comments, experiences and pose questions with the trainers and other participants.
  • An online library of specially curated resources on think tanks’ research agendas.
  • Two webinars facilitated by Andrea Ordóñez and Leandro Echt.
  • The delivery of a practical exercise to apply the lessons learned to your organization which will receive personalized feedback from the trainers.

What will we cover?

The outline of the short course will cover:

Background note: Policy-relevant research agendas

  • Understanding personal and institutional agendas
  • Strategic choices for a policy-relevant research agenda

Discussion forum: Examining research agendas

  • Open discussion on some examples of research agendas

Curated library of resources

  • Access to online library to specially curated library of resources for policy relevant research that include bibliography and examples.

First webinar: 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 within a think tank

Second webinar: External process: engagement with stakeholders

  • Recognising the critical dimensions of the context where a think tank works
  • Determining who are the most important stakeholders to consult
  • Strategically choosing how to engage with stakeholders taking into account the political context
  • Identifying new trends in policy debates at the global and regional level that can have important implications for national policy debates and can create new financing and impact opportunities.

Personal task: Plan a research agenda drafting process and a stakeholder engagement strategy

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 of 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 ten years of experience working on carrying out policy relevant research and coordinating national and international research agendas within and across think tanks. She is an economist by training, but with a broad interest in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. She has also developed research projects and policy proposals for the public sector, and has carried out institutional and sectoral assessments for international organizations.

OnThinkTank_Feb 17__CL_9534_Claudia LeisingerLeandro Echt
: Leandro is the General Coordinator of Politics & Ideas, Coordinator of the On Think Tanks School and Editor for Latin America at On Think Tanks. He works on the policy and research field, engaging with think tanks, NGOs, and public agencies interested in linking evidence with public decisions, especially in developing countries, through a mix of capacity building, mentoring and consultancy activities (such as evaluation of programs and organizational assessments), 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). Leandro has a MA in Public Policies and Development Management (Georgetown University and Universidad de San Martín), Diploma on Evaluation of Public Policies, and BA in Political Science and Professorship of Political Science (Universidad de Buenos Aires). Currently based in the United States.


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.

Join the course by registering below through Eventbrite.

Before signing-up, review our Terms and Conditions.