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On Think Tanks was founded in mid 2010. It has evolved from a blog into a global platform dedicated to study and support policy research and policy research centres, or think tanks. The members of the On Think Tanks Team and its Advisory Board are spread out across 6 continents!


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Supporting policymakers to use evidence

Evidence is a key resource in helping policymakers make better decisions. The Department for International Development (DFID) and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation both acknowledge this and are funding work in this area. Organisations they have selected to pursue change in this area will be tasked with: understanding the context which shapes the search for evidence; conducting a study of the ‘evidence context’; selecting policy issues to work on; setting up a ‘delivery’ team and establishing key relationships; and deciding what actions to take. Drawing on my involvement in Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) in South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as the Knowledge Sector Initiative in Indonesia, I’d like to reflect on lessons I've learnt from addressing these tasks.
  1. 1

    Five questions to understand the evidence context

    To identify entry points for your work with policymakers, you’ll first need to understand the political context for the acquisition and use of evidence. Doing this requires an understanding of five things: 1) the issue or problem being discussed 2) the policy context 3) evidence processes 4)... Read full article
  2. 2

    Thirteen tips to conduct a successful evidence context study

    In my last article, I wrote about what an analytical framework for an ‘evidence context' study might look. Here, I highlight thirteen lessons to hold in mind when conducting a study (primarily targeting people from a ‘Northern’ context). It’s based on studies of the policy process I’ve... Read full article
  3. 3

    Three ways to select policy issues to work on

    Consultants may have to conduct evidence studies on a range of policy issues but then have to provide capacity development services in only a few. If you find yourself in this predicament, how might you choose which issue to work on? Here’s a few suggestions… Work by the ODI’s RAPID... Read full article
  4. 4

    Twelve tips to set up a team and establish relationships

    You’ve got a better idea of the context which shapes policymakers use’ of evidence and selected an issue to work on. So, what next? Here’s some advice on how you plan and deliver your support to policymakers, staring with twelves things you can do to set up a team and establish key... Read full article
  5. 5

    Twelve ways to decide what actions to take

    In this post we provide twelve suggestions on what you might do to support policymakers to improve their use of evidence. Do you work within or beyond formal constraints identified by the ‘evidence context’ study? You’ll need to decide if you ‘work with the grain’, potentially... Read full article