Myth-busting IV/IV

The Myth: Researcher represents the whole scientific community when interacting with policymakers 

The Reality: The researcher is a member of the scientific community and part of the reason why researchers are heard in policy-making is based on the policy-makers’ understanding that the scientific community produces high-quality knowledge. However, this myth is worth busting because: 

  • The views of researchers are taken into account in policy-making because they are experts. Researchers know their thematic area and view it from their own perspective. Furthermore, the civil servants of ministries appreciate it when individual researchers are able to understand the realities of policy-making (e.g., tight schedules, limited resources and the stages of the process) and transmit knowledge in terms that are familiar to policy-makers. So, an individual researcher is not considered to represent the entire scientific community but they are instead heard with respect to their individual expertise and experience. 

Tip: Participating in a panel or organising a workshop together with policy-makers can be a good opportunity for managing expectations. In a panel, for example, the researcher may highlight that they are channelling knowledge based on their personal expertise, which can help policy-makers understand the limitations of the knowledge channelled during the interaction. When organising a workshop, the researcher can bring up broader observations of the kinds of questions research can answer or what kind of questions researchers in a specific field are receptive to.