When you wish to instruct, be brief. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind – Cicero

The Evidence Synthesis Team is enthusiastic about dissemination, keen that our research never goes to waste. We are therefore always seeking opportunities to enhance our knowledge of how to do this most effectively.

During lockdown, Becca and Morwenna attended a Policy Briefing Creation Workshop, hosted by Policy@Exeter and run by Sense about Science. The idea of the workshop was to help us develop our policy engagement, and to produce a tangible policy briefing based on one of our projects.

The project we chose was Caring About Care which aimed to support improvement in the experience of care for people living with dementia, their family, and staff in hospitals through three systematic reviews.

Through the two-hour workshop, and one to one meetings and detailed feedback from Sense About Science advisors on our briefing, we learned about how to present research in a way that catches the attention of politicians, campaigners or anyone involved in making policy decisions.

Here are some of the tips we picked up:

  • Sell yourselves. Policy makers need to know that you are the experts
  • State your research aims, findings and key messages clearly and succinctly using bullet points. Policy makers will not trawl through paragraphs of information and you want to stand out
  • Link your research to key problems that can be addressed by policy changes
  • Know your audience. Be aware of debates being held in in the public domain about your topic. Read relevant newspapers, check guidelines, statements, white papers and bills to see what the political landscape looks like.
  • Highlight relevant campaign groups and organisations that link to your research to demonstrate its relevance
  • Include citations so policy makers know your research is trustworthy
  • Know what you want policy makers to do in response to your findings, and state this clearly

Want to know how we got on? Check out our finished policy brief here 

With thanks to Sense about Science and Policy@Exeter for giving us this opportunity