When initiating the Research-to-Policy Collaboration, we began to recognize that there are limited opportunities for researchers to share their experiences and expertise with policymakers. We found that most researchers have little training on how to engage in public policy and few structured opportunities for policy engagement.
Ultimately, we envision the RPC approach as a structured opportunity for applying research in the policymaking context.
Our network of researchers plays a vital role in the cultivation of evidence-based research for use in government offices. As a member of our Rapid Response Network, you can expect to collaborate in a number of ways, all involving responses to current policy opportunities that are relevant to your expertise. Potential avenues for engagement include responding to requests for research in your area of specialization, attending trainings and webinars, and participating in consultative phone calls or in-person meetings with legislative staff.
Need for Researcher Involvement
Engagement and active communication between researchers and policymakers are helpful for a number of reasons:
Subject-matter expertise allows for very rich dialogue about the state of the evidence, and direct experiences enable the delivery of personally relevant narratives that resonate with decision makers more than data alone.
Adaptability to respond to policymakers' needs in real time. Collaborating with knowledgeable researchers reduces the learning curve because it is not feasible for a few staff to have depth knowledge about myriad policy issues.
Engagement of researchers who are not otherwise involved with policymakers has the potential to mobilize more connections between researchers and policymakers, which maximizes potential impact.
Capacity building activities seek to scaffold researchers’ policy competencies and autonomy such that enduring legislative relationships and policy engagement can continue independent from RPC involvement.
Benefits for Participation
Intrinsic Reward &
We recognize the need to connect research with decision makers for it to truly have value, even if institutions are not directly rewarding community engagement and research translation. Voluntarily contributing to activities that bridge the research to policy / practice divide is worth more than recognition - it is an essential value of this work that propels us forward.
RPC provides a platform for researchers to connect and exchange knowledge with one another, which can help researchers build their professional networks. There are also endless opportunities for networking, which might generate leads for future collaboration. For example:
Policy arena consultation via briefings, model legislation, or expert testimonial
Community consultation regarding the implementation of legislation and other change efforts
Research collaborations informed by mutual interests and needs identified in collaboration with Congressional offices
Many institutions are beginning to embrace policies that reward activities that transcend traditional academic endeavors, such as peer-reviewed publications. Participation in research translation activities that are responsive to the needs of decision-makers is a high level of community-engaged scholarship. Individuals who would like a letter of recommendation for their institution's records should contact Taylor Scott.
Oftentimes our training institutions focus on conducting research - a valuable skill - but focus too little time on how to communicate research with decision makers. Joining the RPC’s Rapid Response Network will provide participants with opportunities to learn and practice policy-related skills. Our network also serves as a starting place for identifying speakers for events, such as briefings or hearings.
Informing Future Research
The divide between research and policy / practice is a two-way street. We expect that new research questions may develop over time based on what we learn from our policy arena colleagues. It is essential that we find ways for our research to be responsive to the needs of decision makers. Moreover, connections with legislative offices may help you to identify sources of data to answer questions you hadn’t thought of before, which also serves as compelling rationale for research proposals.
Joining the Rapid Response Network
RPC has been working to enhance its internal capacity to recognize the assets and expertise of its members.
Members’ expertise and interests are catalogued via the member registration process.
The Rapid Response Network is comprised of individuals who agree to be involved in processes that may lead to collaboration with legislative offices. The primary mechanism for this group's operation will be a discussion forum, which will post policymakers' requests for information (e.g., research on a specific topic) and opportunities for collaboration. When consultative meetings (in person or by phone) occur, we look to identify researchers from the network who are prepared (e.g., participated in prior trainings), able to commit time to follow-up, and have subject-matter expertise.
How to Get Involved
The primary mechanism for outreach to prospective rapid response members is through the information collected at registration. Make sure you complete this information. If you are concerned that you have not received the expected outreach regarding this opportunity or if you have further questions, please contact Taylor Scott.
Expectations & Commitments
Members participating in the Rapid Response Network will be asked to commit time to several processes that allow us to understand your expertise and how that aligns with congressional needs. These processes will also allow us to prepare you for collaboration with congressional and other government offices. Additionally, you may be asked to participate in interviews with someone from outside the RPC who will ask about your experiences. The information gleaned in interviews will enable the RPC to improve these efforts and may provide information useful for replication, continuity, or expansion.
The following list describes opportunities for involvement in the Rapid Response Network:
Responses to Requests for Information - Requests for information are posted via the discussion forum and aid in facilitating collaboration between legislative offices and network members. Learn more about the response process HERE.
Trainings and Webinars - Digital meetings are the cornerstone of the professional development aspect of this initiative and are offered on a rotating basis. We recognize that our members have varying levels of policy-related experience and invite individuals of all levels of experience to participate. Those with less experience can benefit from the wisdom of those of you with experience! As part of our network, you will also have opportunities to join us at training events occurring at conferences or stand-alone trainings facilitated in partnership with affiliated organizations.
Expertise Assessment - We may occasionally seek to supplement the information we have about your skills and expertise via brief surveys to aid in identifying individuals with expertise that align with the needs indicated by congressional offices.
To read more about our avenues for collaboration and our Rapid Response Process, click below.