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  • Matthew Hora

On translating research for policymakers

There's lots of talk and angst in academia (at least in some circles, particularly education) about making research more relevant to policymakers. This was a big topic at last years ASHE conference and in the state of Wisconsin, where education and workforce policy have been lead news items for the past few years, figuring out how to get those in positions of power, influence, and with their hands on the levers of policymaking to pay attention to evidence and science and research findings is a top priority.

Of course, there are many who would rather do the basic science, address fundamental questions and issues in science and let others figure out the implications. Somewhere in the middle is where I've been living the past several years, doing research that ideally, was translating the complexity of institutional and social systems so that practitioners in the real-world, whether they were college Deans, faculty, or policymakers, would have a better understanding of the issues.

But with this skills gap oriented study, there's no choice. The topic is so politicized and has so many implications for immediate policy, that my team and I have to figure out how to get it into the hands of those making decisions. And, if they don't want to hear about the evidence, then getting into the hands of the public, of other researchers, of other policymakers who perhaps haven't already made up their minds. So the coming years I think will be partly about traversing the same path that's been there always, but with a little more energy put into things like policy analyses, Twitter, and on translating research findings into plain-talk whose relevance for policy and legislation is immediately clear.

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