The Bingham Center’s Global Rule of Law Exchange did a live webcast this morning (11/5/2015) on the topic “Development and the Rule of Law: from Research to Practice”. Thanks to @paulmccann and @tobiaseigen for forwarding the information on how to join the meeting. It was a multi-member panel comprising academics and policy makers across different countries, regions and time zones, all in one common forum discussing and sharing experiences on how to convert research into policy/practice.
As you can see,the topic itself is interesting given the work Namati is doing and the people that we are working with; it is a topic very close to home. The speakers struck compelling points about how research has been done in the past, and how that had brought about challenges in bridging the gap between research and policy making.
“Decolonize”/de-westernize research – in particular, it was the view of one speaker that often times the way policy makers commission research was largely dictated by western universities based on western values and agenda. She argued that this practice gives little credence to local knowledge on some of the pertinent issues that need reform. One observation was that research questions themselves were drawn based on foreign data/information and then taken to the research country. This has posed serious challenges for reformers to come out with policies that work for the client country. The speaker called for the “decolonization”/de-westernization of research, and encouraged African/universities in the global south to identify the kinds of incentives that would enable themselves engage in research.
Data – a research product is as good as the data collected. Quality data is very key to processing information that makes for good policy. A faulty research question produces less quality data/information, hence, cannot produce good result that can inform better policies. In this regard, a lot of emphasis was placed on the quality of data that is needed in policy making as well as the policy making process.
Time factor – as one speaker puts it “policy makers need information on time to make decisions”. If policy makers rely on quality information to make decisions on time, it also means that researchers need resources on time to collect and process the information that decision makers need. So, time is also a very important element.
Disseminating research findings – another important question was what methodology researchers or policy makers are using to disseminate research findings to their clients? One of the panelists replied she had used video to disseminate some of her recent work.
Conflicting goals/roles among researchers – it was also observed that researchers/academics might have different goals/roles which shapes their behavior in terms engagement with the client. Some researchers want to focus on the research and not engage with policy makers and vice versa. Related to the above is the question of academic independence. Different academics have different incentives – policy relevant rather than policy driven.
The closing highlights were sort of words of encouragement to the research/academic community to remain influential and creative in drawing on quality. This includes quality in everything related to research such as statistical data, sourcing of funding for research projects, and relevance of each research to a certain context. A combination of all these makes a really good research.
I will post the link on discourse forum as soon as I receive it from the organizers.