Wednesday, August 29, 2012

[EQ] What Difference does a Policy Brief Make?

What Difference does a Policy Brief Make?

Penelope Beynon, Christelle Chapoy, Marie Gaarder and Edoardo Masset

Institute of Development Studies and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) 2012
Full Report of an IDS, 3ie, Norad study

            Available online PDF [[115p.] at:

“……..Research has potential to improve the lives of the world’s vulnerable people if it is appropriately referred to in decision-making processes. While there is a significant industry of activity each year to communicate research findings, little systematic research has tested or compared the effectiveness of such efforts either for changing beliefs or for prompting action.

Using a randomised control design, this study explored the effectiveness of one popular research communication tool, a policy brief, and queried whether different versions of a brief bring about different results. We find that the policy brief had little effect on changing the beliefs of readers who held strong prior beliefs on entering the study, but had some potential to create evidence-accurate beliefs among readers holding no prior beliefs.

Also, when it comes to beliefs, the impact of the policy brief seems to be independent of the specific form of the policy brief.
However, different versions of the brief (versions that include a research Opinion with or without a suggestion that the opinion is from an Authoritative source) do achieve different results when it comes to prompting actions. We find that other factors internal and external to the brief (gender of the reader, reader’s self-perceived level of influence and the extent to which the reader feels ‘convinced’ by the brief) are also linked to action.

This first-of-its-kind study has implications for how research communication experts design policy briefs, how they understand and enable readers to act as knowledge brokers in their particular environment, and how we evaluate research communication going forward….”


Summary, keywords, author notes

1 Introduction

1.1 Why does research communication matter?

1.2 A simple theory of change for a policy brief

1.3 Reader characteristics that could affect results

2 Methods

2.1 Developing the treatments

2.2 Identifying the study population and sample

2.3 Random allocation to treatment groups

2.4 Administering the treatment

2.5 Data collection tools

2.6 Attrition

2.7 Data analysis

2.8 Study limitations

2.9 Lessons from the study design

3 Results

3.1 What impact did the policy brief intervention have on readers’ beliefs?

3.2 What impact did the policy brief intervention have on readers’ intentions to act?

3.3 What impact did the policy brief intervention have on readers’ completed actions?

4 Discussion

4.1 Weak overall effect on beliefs, but a tendency to share

4.2 The Authority and Opinion effects influence behaviour more so than beliefs

4.3 Gender effect – why are women less likely to act?

4.4 Self-perceived influence effect

5 Conclusions

Appendix 1 Round one qualitative interviews

Appendix 2 Round two qualitative interviews

Appendix 3 Persistence of change in beliefs

Appendix 4 Further qualitative analysis



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