DREaM event 3: Making the bullets for others to fire
Professor Nick Moore from Acumen presented a workshop session discussing research and policy on 30th January 2012 at the second DREaM workshop.
Professor Moore provided a short interview short interview prior to this session.
You can also view this presentation on Slideshare.
You can also view this video on Vimeo.
“The Debonair” Professor Nick Moore from Acumen gave a personal account of his experiences of research. Much of this referred to his time at the Policy Studies Institute, where he worked on a number of research projects designed to influence policy. Moore introduced early efforts to develop some form of conceptual framework for this work, and to make sense of exactly what was meant by “information policy”.
These efforts produced an information policy matrix (slide 4). The matrix operates at three broad categories: the information sector, information and organisations, and information and society. Cutting across these three categories are another three dimensions: ICT and networks, legislative and regulatory issues, and skills. This was used as a conceptual analytical framework to inform the work that Moore undertook at the Policy Studies Institute.
Moore discussed some of the projects which explored and informed each row of the matrix. The work gave opportunities to promote research dissemination, including facilitating seminars to explore freedom of information legislation across the world. Current freedom of information legislation can be traced back to those seminars.
In the second phase of the work in which Moore was involved, the Policy Studies Institute moved towards analysing existing policies in a critical way and using this research to inform future policy through evaluation. Moore described work on a number of projects. These included a study which tracked twelve different information provision projects aimed at improving service provision for people with disabilities, a study which examined information provisions for people in rural areas, and a case study carried out for the RNID. He warned that there are occasions when those commissioning such studies may have their own agendas or may not frame the brief appropriately, so it is important to clarify exactly what a project is seeking to achieve from the outset.
“The most difficult part of formulating your research is expressing the aim in one, clear, unambiguous sentence.”
Moore stressed that there is no point carrying out this type of work if you don’t express your views and provide critical comment. However, in the UK we are really lucky because the community is the right size for critical comment to be heard without damaging careers.
In drawing out more general lessons from his experience, Moore explained that if you are going to embark on a research career in which you want to influence policy you need to be interested, and you need to be passionate. He advised trying to stay ahead of the curve, but not too far ahead, and noted that it helps to be part of a large, influential, but independent organisation, as this will help to ensure your research results are respected and have credibility.
Moore moved on to discuss mistakes in his own research career and reflected on how these might have been avoided. His advice emphasised the following points:
- Don’t try to cover too much.
You will have more impact if you focus, so pick your area of specialism and focus on that.
- It is important to build networks.
Moore lamented that he has struggled with this himself, and remarked and that he has been impressed by the DREaM project and its use of technology to build supportive networks.
- If you want to make an impact, you need time to think.
He observed that management consultants are often brought in when managers feel that they don’t have enough time to think.
- You need to accept criticism.
To conclude, Moore led a workshop discussion to consider what might be the “next big issue”, and encouraged delegates to consider how they can stay ahead of the curve. Participants responded by suggesting changes to the publishing industry, the move towards establishing evidence-based policy, and online privacy issues as possible candidates to watch.
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