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Evidence-based policy generation: how can we improve on open access?


  • Sarah Chaytor presents a framework for strengthening evidence-based policy generation.
  • Key elements of the framework are cross-functional collaboration, fostering relationships, and making research outputs clear and accessible.

In August 2022, following a roundtable discussion hosted by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Taylor and Francis, Sarah Chaytor (Director of Research Strategy & Policy at University College London) developed a framework for improving the relationships between research institutions and public policymakers. This framework, dubbed the ‘Five Cs’, acknowledges the current limitations of open access.


This first ‘C’ deals with how to effectively communicate, access, and understand research, and includes translation capabilities (to make academic research understandable for lay audiences) and curational capabilities (to make research outputs easy to find and navigate for users). Chaytor also highlighted relational capabilities, which are a key element in supporting research use.


Chaytor discussed the role of relational capabilities in more detail in the second ‘C’ and stressed the importance of investing in building sustainable, long-term relationships to ensure successful academic-policy engagement.


Long-term relationships can help to foster coordinated research efforts. Chayton noted that literature reviews are highly valued by policy users for providing accessible evidence summaries, but tend to be undervalued by funders and publishers. In the future, it will be important to find ways to encourage timely research synthesis as part of academic outputs.


While the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of cross-disciplinary approaches to policy issues, Chaytor believes that collaboration should be between organisations as well as between disciplines. An illustrative example of institutional collaboration is the Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN) – a community of UK universities that aims to increase the impact of research on policy and offers a collective response to requests for evidence from policymakers.

“Supporting sustained collaboration between academic, policy, and other communities is essential to drive evidence use” – Sarah Chaytor


The final ‘C’ focuses on the effective co-production of evidence between the academic and policy communities. Chayton suggested a ‘quadruple helix’ approach to co-production, which would also include businesses and civil society.

We hope to see the elements in this framework being implemented to facilitate evidence use and better support evidence-informed policymaking.


What do you think – will the ‘Five ‘Cs’ presented here help improve on open access for evidence-based policy generation?

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