Connecting with Canadians

Research Report:

Evaluating Policy Research

by Caroline Pestieau

In this paper, we aim to advance understanding of how to evaluate policy research. Our starting point is the assumption that institutes and networks undertaking policy research outside government do so to influence public policy. We understand public policy in a broad sense including both discrete policy decisions and the ways in which policy is developed. In Part I, we review the relationship between research and policy to see what kind of influence we can expect research to have on policy-makers and their environment. In Part II, we look at the role of evaluation in the public sector and the way evaluators and those commissioning evaluations approach their work. Both Parts reveal the difficulty of demonstrating relationships of cause and effect. This double challenge leads us to conclude that we have to be prudent in attributing influence to research activities and choose our approach carefully in evaluating the work of a research network.

Release Date: 12 Dec 2003
Number of pages: 31
Document number: 24336

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Summary: Evaluating Policy Research