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Engaging with policymakers: Viet Nam case study part 2

Article discussing the experience of a research institution in Viet Nam engaging policymakers
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© COG-Train

In part 2 of our case study on policymaking in Viet Nam, we will focus on how researchers have engaged with policymakers and what lessons can be learnt. The team at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) developed a series of recommendations based on their work that may be relevant in many different contexts. They conducted a series of in-depth interviews between November 2019 and March 2020, so it’s helpful to remember that a lot of these issues are not unique to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, but can be considered for a variety of pathogen outbreaks.

OUCRU’s findings demonstrated that while researchers often do engage with policymakers, this is often not systematic and that it is also hard to quantify, track and assess the impact of these interactions. Accordingly, they suggested some key recommendations to improve engagement with policymakers going forwards:

  • Researchers would benefit from more education about the policymaking process, as this will help them to target their communication with policy stakeholders in a way that is more likely to produce the desired uptakes of their research data.
  • Policy engagement needs to be better embedded into the research culture of the organisation so that researchers are familiar with the concept and terminology and are able to plan engagement activities as part of their research practice.
  • Researchers should include policy engagement activities in their grant applications and cost them accordingly.
  • Researchers should be recognised for their policy engagement work.
  • There needs to be a channel (or many channels) in place for policy stakeholders to be able to access the research community, and a corresponding channel in place for researchers to be able to access the stakeholders.
  • When thinking about systemic policy engagement, we do not need to have the projects completed and research results in place before that engagement takes place, and it is preferable if engagement is happening throughout the entire research life cycle.
  • Policy engagement outputs should be centrally collected in a systematic way, and regular reports produced.

Further reading

The dos and don’ts of influencing policy: a systematic review of advice to academics

How do these recommendations align with the situation in your country? Is there adequate engagement between researchers and policymakers and if not, who should be responsible for improving this?

© COG-Train
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