The Policy > Action Network (P>AN) is hosted by the Research Use and Impact Assessment Unit (RIA) at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and is supported by the Department of Science and Technology.

P>AN supports the policy community by sourcing information on social policy with the aim of contributing to rigour in policy making and greater participation in policy processes. This site contains a range of resources including case studies, policy briefs, research reports, events info and ‘how-to’ info on getting research into policy, and getting policy into action.

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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Latest publications

The gap between research and practice or policy is often described as a problem. To identify new barriers to, and facilitators of, the use of evidence by policy makers, and assess the state of research in this area, Bio Med Central recently updated a systematic review. They searched online databases including Medline, Embase, SocSci Abstracts, CDS, DARE, Psychlit, Cochrane Library, NHSEED, HTA, PAIS, IBSS (Search dates: July 2000-September 2012). Studies were included if they were primary research or systematic reviews about factors affecting the use of evidence in policy. Studies were coded to extract data on methods, topic, focus, results and population.

REMINDER of Youth Day seminar today at 12h30.

In the context of Youth Month this seminar asks how youth activism has changed over the past 39 years since the student uprising that began in Soweto in 1976 – over (ostensibly) the issue of the medium of instruction in schools for black youth. Today we ask youth activists from three universities in South Africa to reflect on their experiences on education and transformation. The call to transform South Africa’s academic institutions is on the rise country wide in the wake of the Rhodes Must Fall movement. The transformation agenda is engendering a new form of youth educational activism that is focusing on issues, inter alia, curriculum reform; demographic diversity within the academy; institutional culture and institutional naming. The seminar seeks to engage the voices of students on these and other pertinent issues related to education and transformation in post-apartheid South Africa.

Xenophobic violence is increasingly becoming a longstanding feature in post-Apartheid South Africa and efforts to explain its underlying and immediate causes have intensified since the unprecedented wave of violence in May 2008. Unfortunately, a critical review of existing explanations reveals that, while valuable in identifying the socio-economic and political context within which violence occurs, they fall short as scientific explanations for the occurrence of the violence.Jean Pierre Misago from the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) presented at the HSRC on 30 June 2015 and his presentation is attached.

Extensive literature review on knowledge utilisation from Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA). Issues addressed in five key essays: Shifts in science policy and the new university paradigm, Research tradtions of knowledge utilisation and its most influential models, Research to policy, Stakeholder engagement and porticipation, and, Science Communication.

On 1 and 2 June 2015 the University of Johannesburg's Building Capacity for Using Research Evidence (BCURE) project hosted a two-day workshop for partners interested in the use of research in decision-making in government. Presentations are attached for your interest.

Discussion document for public comment on the National Liquor Policy. Note issues around minimum age for purchasing alcohol, distance from schools and the need for education around liquor consumption as issues affecting the wellbeing of children.

The NCCHPP's François Benoit offered this presentation for the Public Health Agency of Canada's Centre for Public Health Infrastructure, in Ottawa on January 21, 2015. March 2015. This presentation illustrates how two public policy models, the stages model and the punctuated equilibrium model, can help public health actors to reflect on using data, knowledge and evidence in producing healthy public policies. It addresses the following questions: In general: How can public health actors support the production of healthy public policies?; More specifically: What leads decision makers to use knowledge in their policy formulation; or, in corollary, how do two main explanations of decision makers' evidence use (a linear model or a model that focuses on the cultural gap between decision makers and researchers) orient our conceptions of knowledge sharing?; What influences governments' policy analysts?; How do decision makers' styles open up windows of opportunity allowing policy analysts to then influence those decision makers?; While using public policy models, how can we adjust our knowledge sharing to maximize its use?; and; How does recognizing that the complex system of producing public policies influences our analysis of situations, our knowledge production and our knowledge sharing?

There are clearly big questions here that can't be fully answered in this presentation. Nevertheless, discussing them helps to remind us that, by analyzing the circumstances surrounding the production of public policy, public health actors can develop knowledge-exchange practices that take into account windows of opportunity as they arise. The study of public policy models offers the possibility to contribute to the production of evidence-informed public policies.


The 20 Year Review synthesis report published in 2014 was informed by several thematic areas. These are regarded as focal areas to tell the story of South Africa’s progress since democracy. The 21 thematic background papers were written by officials in the Presidency and other government departments using research and other evidence to inform progress, sector developments and challenges still remaining. The body of work that went into developing these papers was extensive with the goal of understanding where we came from in order to inform South Africa’s future trajectory.  Each of the thematic papers was based on background papers which are available at the link above.

Indonesian village law

Watch the podcast of  Working politically: A story of change about the contribution of research evidence to the new village law in Indonesia. On December 18th 2013, the Indonesian House of Representatives passed the new Village Law, a vote that was the culmination of a journey that started in 2007. This story of change takes the passing of the village law as its starting point and describes the relative influence that research-based evidence produced by the Institute for Research and Empowerment has had at critical junctions of the legislative process. It concludes that good quality research-based evidence is necessary but not sufficient to influence policy-making processes. Suggests that researchers and research organisations need to think and work politically to achieve their influencing goals and adapt to changes in local circumstances.  

The primary audience for this book is researchers in systems and policy research, seeking to strengthen their capacity at the individual and at the organizational level, from particular research projects to larger issues of organizational development. This book emphasizes that successful publication on the part of researchers is not 'job finished.' It is 'job started.' It then sets out what more must be done—and how—to drive the research findings to wherever they need to be to provide real and maximum benefit to policy, to practice, to people.