The dos and don'ts of influencing policy: a systematic review of advice to academics


Oliver K & Cairney P (2019) The dos and don'ts of influencing policy: a systematic review of advice to academics. Palgrave Communications, 5 (1), Art. No.: 21.

Many academics have strong incentives to influence policymaking, but may not know where to start. We searched systematically for, and synthesised, the ‘how to’ advice in the academic peer-reviewed and grey literatures. We condense this advice into eight main recommendations: (1) Do high quality research; (2) make your research relevant and readable; (3) understand policy processes; (4) be accessible to policymakers: engage routinely, flexible, and humbly; (5) decide if you want to be an issue advocate or honest broker; (6) build relationships (and ground rules) with policymakers; (7) be ‘entrepreneurial’ or find someone who is; and (8) reflect continuously: should you engage, do you want to, and is it working? This advice seems like common sense. However, it masks major inconsistencies, regarding different beliefs about the nature of the problem to be solved when using this advice. Furthermore, if not accompanied by critical analysis and insights from the peer-reviewed literature, it could provide misleading guidance for people new to this field.

Palgrave Communications: Volume 5, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2019
Publication date online28/02/2019
Date accepted by journal28/01/2019
PublisherSpringer Nature