Policy consultations

As I’ve mentioned before, the interaction between research and policy can be difficult to navigate. For researchers who study policy itself, the notion of policy consultations is particularly interesting. I’ve submitted evidence to a few: for the Higher Education and Research Bill in 2016, the Wellcome Trust’s policy review last spring, and to the Plan S consultation that has just ended. I’m somewhat ambivalent about doing this. As Sam Moore has argued, there is no transparency in the decision-making that results from such consultations; it can appear that the primary purpose of a consultation is to demonstrate that a consultation has taken place.

I take the view that the only realistic result that is likely to result from them is slight tweaking of certain aspects as the policies, so I submit short responses that make a couple of points that I think need addressing, rather than lengthy analyses. (This is also a result of the fact that I don’t have time to do any more than that – perhaps a primary reason for the general lack of engagement with such exercises by most academics.) At least I can ensure that otherwise-overlooked ideas have to be considered or acknowledged by the policy-making body.