During the conference the organisers shared five hypotheses about the contribution that research intermediaries can make to evidence based policy and practice. As intended, these hypthoses stimulated lively discussion, helping to surfaces different perspectives and ideas.
The hypotheses emerge from the background paper written by IDS for this conference which was intended to prove a framing for conference discussions and to give an overview of some of the concepts. The paper is in five sections: the first begins by exploring debates around “pro-poor evidence-based policy” which are the context for conference discussions; the second looks at what is meant by intermediaries in this context; the third looks at problems in information flows in the research-policy environment; the fourth illustrates how intermediaries aim to improve those flows, and; the final section offers conclusions and reflections about the importance of the role.
Each section of the paper poses a hypothesis as follows:
Hypothesis 1: ‘Evidence-based policy and practice’ is more likely to be pro-poor if it is understood as a practice which encourages the inclusion of a wide range of evidence and perspectives in defining and understanding issues and formulating policies.
Hypothesis 2: Intermediaries represent a distinct, new communication structure that contributes to an enabling environment for the use of a broad range of evidence in policy and practice through multiple and hybrid communication and engagement channels.
Hypothesis 3: Intermediaries’ unique contribution lies in their commitment to highlighting multiple perspectives that draw on a broad range of evidence sources to create a rich information environment to support evidence-based policymaking.
Hypothesis 4: Even when research communication is happening effectively, intermediaries add value by creating ongoing platforms, spaces and places to promote the engagement of policy and practice actors with a plurality of sources and perspectives.
Hypothesis 5: Intermediaries’ contribution is strengthened when they become aware of how their ‘power of in-between’ affects the flow of perspectives and sources of evidence into the research-policy environment.