How can researchers influence policy?

Posted on: 15 March 2024 by Prof Catherine Durose (Number of words: 281; Read time: 1 minute, 24 seconds) in Blog posts

A picture of Prof Catherine Durose
Prof Catherine Durose

Catherine Durose, Professor of Public Policy and Co-Director of the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place, discusses how researchers can influence policy.

Developing research that contributes positively to the societies that we live and work in is often a core motivation for researchers. There’s now growing recognition of the need for researchers to reach out and work with others to maximise the impact of their work. Working with policymakers is a crucial part of this picture. Policy affects every part of our lives, and the evidence and research developed by universities is important in informing government’s choices on how to act.

Policymaking is often presented as an orderly ‘cycle’ moving from identifying problems that require government attention, to formulating a plan, building support for it, and determining a way to deliver and evaluate it. But, it’s important to recognise that policymaking can often be messier and more political than this, with policymakers often subject to events, electoral cycles, media and public opinion.

To act in this environment, policymakers often rely on trusted sources and recognised framings of policy issues. Researchers need to shape their impact strategies to reflect the environment policymakers work in and what they need.

To have influence, it’s important to communicate your research in an accessible and clear way, but to also build relationships with policymakers. But it’s also important to work with others to amplify shared messages, and consider how to present your research in a persuasive way.

As part of Making an Impact 2024, I am delivering a session on how policy is made and how researchers can influence it. This session will give insights about what policymakers are looking for, how research and evidence is used in policymaking, and how you can identify and develop opportunities for influencing policy from your own research. In this session, you’ll take part in interactive opportunities to help understand how to generate policy impact with your research, and develop your own personal impact plan.

'Policy 101: how policy is made and how to influence it' is taking place on 13th May, 14:00-15:30 BST in person at the University of Liverpool. Find out more and reserve your place here:

About the author

Catherine Durose is Professor of Public Policy and Co-Director of the  Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place, where she leads on the delivery of a policy impact training series supported by the University’s ESRC Impact Accelerator Account. Catherine has worked extensively with policymakers, particularly relating to citizen participation. Catherine is particularly well-known for her work on co-production, how bringing together different forms of expertise can provide an innovative means of addressing complex policy challenges.