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Canadian Science Policy Centre | Panel 115 - A two-way street: science informing policy, and policy informing science

Panel 115 - A two-way street: science informing policy, and policy informing science

Conference Day: 
Day 1 - November 7th 2018
Takeaways and recommendations: 

A 2-way street: Science informing policy and policy informing science

Organized by: The National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations

Speakers: Denise Amyot, President and CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada; Krista Connell, Chief Executive Officer, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation; Necole Sommersell, Manager, Evaluation & Impact, Research Manitoba

Moderator: Deborah Gordon-El Bihbety, President & CEO, Research Canada: An Alliance for Health Discovery

Takeaways and recommendations:

  • Scientific inquiry focuses on achieving a clear evidenced-based answer that can feed into evidence-based decision making.

  • Policy development must take into account current issues, public opinion and the political climate.

  • Policy makers may have to make decisions with incomplete information.

  • Policy development has shorter timelines than scientific inquiry.

  • Colleges and institutes are a useful resource for policy makers. They tend to focus on solving real-world problems affecting industry or communities. College research tends to work on shorter timelines, which could assist government in de-risking policy decisions.

Tip for scientists when contributing to policy development:

  • Consult citizens and consumers before policies are drafted.

  • Include under-represented and vulnerable populations in your consultations.

  • Employ a multidisciplinary approach to ensure a holistic understanding of challenges and solutions.

  • Pilot policies and adjust and tweak or cancel.

  • Communications is critical to develop and sustain relationships between researchers and policymakers.

  • Create a proof-of-concept and test it.

  • Explore how you are sharing information and deploying knowledge translation.

  • Engage stakeholders early in project design.

  • Focus on dissemination of information.

  • Use a champion to bridge communications, select someone who is respected, knowledgeable and understands the policy and science environments.

  • Understand the power of storytelling.

When learning about policy development, remember:

  • Do not bring things forward to policymakers that they cannot action.

  • Make sure you understand the current policy agenda.

  • Don’t become a threat. The push model is not as effective as understanding the culture and agenda of the government.

  • Science informing policy is a complex arena.

  • Communication is integral to success.

  • Relationships are key.

  • Ensure your communications is relevant, excellent, accessible and legitimate (REAL).

  • Respond to public agenda and priorities, be relevant and on point.

  • There is no point in sharing evidence that is not relevant or is overwhelming.

  • Have excellent metrics, narratives and stories.

  • Pilot projects are often a mechanism to garner more money and interest.

  • Win hearts first and be personal, then share evidence.

  • Lobbying simply means developing relationships.

  • Focus on common goals, help policymakers make better decisions or do a better job for a province or the country.

  • Become a trusted advisor; don’t focus on your needs only.

  • Understand timing when it comes to political policies, and understand the current climate and what is on the agenda.

  • Consider public opinion.

  • You can use public opinion to push your agenda forward.