Avenues for Researcher-Policymaker Collaboration

The Research-to-Policy Collaboration responds to a number of different legislative requests involving research-based information and collaboration. These requests for support or collaboration range in the level of intensity of the response, such that some efforts involve responding to questions about the research base, whereas others involve substantial planning for a formal response to result in a final product or event. The following examples of collaborations are organized from lower to higher levels of intensity and are not mutually exclusive; many offices begin working with RPC staff by asking questions about the research base, which then transition into more substantive collaborative efforts.


1. Research Requests

Involve soliciting research or information; may include questions about the etiology, prevalence, or interventions to address a particular area of concern. Responses to these types of requests include:

  • Reviewing administrative data (e.g., prevalence rates, variability in state practices)

  • Reviewing preventive intervention strategies (e.g., evidence-based programs)
  • Summarizing etiologic evidence (e.g., antecedents; risk or protective factors)
  • Identifying likely impact on public systems (e.g., fiscal impacts) 
  • Reviewing administrative data (e.g., prevalence rates, variability in state practices)

2. Consultative Meetings with Researchers

Dialogue with individuals who have direct subject-matter experience sometimes has additional value beyond written synthesis alone. Researchers from across the nation can be organized to meet by phone, or in certain cases, brought together to meet in-person.

3. Reviewing Legislative Language

RPC staff work with research experts to interpret provisions in bills and make recommendations. Some recommendations may be drawn from model state or other federal legislation. The RPC is currently committed to better understanding how research evidence can be reinforced in written legislative language so that these recommendations are as concrete and specific as possible. Visit our Evaluation page to learn more about our current evaluative efforts.

4. Identifying and Preparing an Expert Witness for a Congressional Hearing

Our Rapid Response Network serves as a great place for identifying specialists in a given field. Through involvement in the RPC, identified researchers will be prepped to testify at a congressional hearing (an event scheduled by legislators or their staff, involving the testimony of several witnesses, including experts).

5. Writing a Policy Brief

After acquiring relevant research from our Rapid Response Network, the RPC will further assist in preparing a 1-2 page(s) report regarding a policy issue, written for a non-scientific audience. This reviews the empirical literature as it relates to a specific bill. While the RPC will review the extent to which legislation does or does not align with an empirical basis, no specific stance is taken to endorse or oppose legislation. See our non-partisan stance for more information.

6. Organizing a Congressional Briefing

In coordination with legislative offices and our Rapid Response Network, the RPC may organize a congressional briefing for researchers to present research pertaining to a specific policy issue. Similar to a conference symposium, where panelists discuss a certain issue, speakers at these briefings present clear take-home points about the state of the evidence and how to use it.

7. Rapid Response Events

A series of face-to-face meetings are coordinated around a broad topic (e.g., juvenile justice; child welfare), bringing together participating congressional offices and teams of researchers with expertise relevant to the current policy priorities discussed in prior meetings with the RPC coordinator. Meetings are designed to develop brief strategic plans for working together (e.g., coordinating collaborative efforts described above). Initiating a substantive collaborative effort between researchers and legislative offices is expected to be the springboard for developing long-lasting, working relationships between researchers and legislative, the primary intent of the RPC.

Interested in learning about our Evaluation Efforts?