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

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evidence use in policymaking

A collection of open-access articles on the use of evidence in policymaking from Palgrave Communications

An open access collection which examines how higher education responds to the demands of the automation economy and the fourth industrial revolution. Considering significant trends in how people are learning, coupled with the ways in which different higher education institutions and education stakeholders are implementing adaptations, it looks at new programs and technological advances that are changing how and why we teach and learn. The book addresses trends in liberal arts integration of STEM innovations, the changing role of libraries in the digital age, global trends in youth mobility, and the development of lifelong learning programs. This is coupled with case study assessments of the various ways China, Singapore, South Africa and Costa Rica are preparing their populations for significant shifts in labour market demands – shifts that are already underway. Offering examples of new frameworks in which collaboration between government, industry, and higher education institutions can prevent lagging behind in this fast changing environment, this book is a key read for anyone wanting to understand how the world should respond to the radical technological shifts underway on the frontline of higher education.

This seminar will describe malnutrition in South African children aged under 15 years, using data from the South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES-1) of 2012. South Africa has adopted several policies to address child malnutrition. However, indicators measuring undernutrition, such as the prevalence of stunting, remain relatively high for a middle income country. Undernutrition is linked to the environment in which children live, which encompasses familial, socio-economic and biological factors. South Africans are also undergoing lifestyle changes, marked by changing diets and lower levels of physical activity. In recent years, there is an emergence of childhood and pubertal obesity, leading to long term risks of non-communicable diseases.

Following on an earlier seminar on this issue, we will now host a further seminar where Katharine Frost from Ububele will present on the theoretical underpinnings of the approach taken to further build up our understanding of these projects. South Africa’s ECD policy is progressive but there remains a gap between policy and intervention/implementation. The centrality of relationships i.e. attachment and bonding in the first 1000 days of a child’s life is acknowledged, but this knowledge needs to be translated into practice. A case example will be presented where attachment theory has been integrated into a project and where there is now some evidence to support its effectiveness.

Report from the the High Level Panel, an initiative of the Speakers’ Forum of Parliament, aimed at taking stock of the impact of legislation insofar as it advances or impedes progress in addressing the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality in South Africa. A key focus area which includes multiple submissions, is land reform, restitution, redistribution and security of tenure.  The Constitution provides for three rights to land: the right to equitable access to land, the right to tenure security and the right to restitution. The Panel’s work, including submissions from the public and expert reports, reveals that the record on the progressive realisation of these rights is concerning. The pace of land reform has been slow. The development of policy and law has drifted away from its initial pro-poor stance and lacks a vision for inclusive agrarian reform. There are also significant gaps, such as on tenure security, where legislation has not been passed, putting the lives and livelihoods of many rural dwellers in peril. The government’s interpretation of customary law, centred on traditional leadership and away from living custom, has added to insecurity. The Panel’s recommendations combine a range of high-level, but also detailed, inputs to the formulation of legislation and a framework for land reform, focusing on redistribution.   

An Alliance for Useful Evidence translation of a recent French scoping of evidence intermediaries, by the Agence Novelle de Solidarités Active (ANSA) and partners 'British What Works Centres: What Evidence for Evidence Based Policy?. The report summarises the evidence production, synthesis and dissemination activities of the UK What Works Centres. It analyses their knowledge mobilisation activities, where they provide support for evidence to be put into action. The report makes recommendations for French policy makers, based on the French context, but overall it is a very useful international resource for policy makers and institutions interested in setting up an evidence intermediary. It includes a summary of learning from the UK What Works Centres and readable case studies.

Article from The Conversation which argues that there are at least six main barriers to the use of research in policymaking. These are the complexity of evidence, absence of personal relationships between researchers and policymakers, the time it takes to do quality research, the perceived irrelevance of research, a lack of analytical capacity within governments, and budget constraints. Concludes that whilst there is no silver bullet to overcoming these barriers, building strong relationships between researchers and policymakers is a good place to start.

Briefing on Ghana's evidence informed policymaking programme, suggesting that it seems to have had a positive residual impact on individual civil service personnel who participated between 2013 and 2016. However, individuals still face institutional barriers to using data and evidence to inform programs and practices. The programme contributed to knowledge and skill building among colleagues and peers. Mandatory action plans included in the EIP training process required trainees to collaborate with colleagues in their respective ministries, creating an opportunity for them to sensitize their colleagues to the importance of using data and evidence. Trainees also reported that they briefed managers and colleagues about what they learned and drafted formal write-ups on the course. The EIP training also fostered the development of informal networks of contacts across national offices involved in evidence production and use. One group of trainees formed a WhatsApp group to keep in touch with one another after the training program ended and reported that they used the group to share information and invite networking and collaboration.

Can boundary objects be designed to help researchers and decision makers to interact more effectively? How can the socio-political setting – which will affect decisions made – be reflected in the boundary objects?

Describes a new context-specific boundary object to promote decision making based on scientific evidence. But first I provide a brief introduction to boundary objects. 

In transdisciplinary research, employing a ‘boundary object’ is a widely used method to facilitate communication and understanding among stakeholder groups with different epistemologies. Boundary objects are abstract tools adaptable to different perspectives and across knowledge domains to serve as a means of symbolic communication.

Boundary objects help people to think outside the box and communicate in different ways. Such objects can take multiple forms from conceptual models, artwork and graphical tools.

The aim of this paper is to explain the evolving size and shape of South Africa’s government machinery. The country’s state apparatus underwent extensive organisational restructuring following its democratic transition in 1994. However, this base component of South Africa’s public administration has largely been overlooked in the post-apartheid literature, which has focused on a host of more politically-sensitive issues such as personnel restructuring, service delivery pressures, and maladministration and corruption. In an effort to address this gap in the story of state transformation the structural evolution of the state in the democratic period is traced.