Connelly S, Vanderhoven D, Durose C, Matthews P, Richardson L & Rutherfoord R (2017) Translation Across Borders: Connecting the academic and policy communities. In: Facer K & Pahl K (eds.) Valuing interdisciplinary collaborative research: Beyond impact. Connected Communities. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 173-190. https://policypress.co.uk/valuing-interdisciplinary-collaborative-research; https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1t895tj.15
In this chapter we look at the legacy of three projects which connected the research and policy communities, through the development of ‘policy briefs’ for the UK Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). These were to be short and accessible reviews of research – in particular from the arts and humanities - relevant to policy on localism. Starting from an understanding of policy-making as meaning-making, and of translation as situated and purposeful action, we explored through ethnographic and action research how academics and government analysts translate research into ideas useful for policy makers.
We conclude that the legacy of researching for policy can be understood not just in terms of ‘things left behind’ and their direct impact on policy, but also more broadly in terms of the purposes of all those involved being met, and influences on academic and civil service norms and subsequent practice. Co-production is central to leaving such a legacy, in particular to break down mutual misunderstanding across the policy/academia border and to enable research to be used. In contrast interdisciplinarity seems less important, though broadening the disciplinary base of research used by government is certainly valuable. Underpinning everything else, the development of relationships of trust through collaboration and mutual learning is paramount.