Think about who will use it and how

As policymaker you might want to use the framework to conduct a general assessment of how your institution stands regarding the six main dimensions to prioritize areas of intervention. On the other hand, a researcher might focus its attention on which issues emerging from the interaction of these dimensions present more promising findings for future research endeavors.

One first important recommendation is to use this framework with the help of others.

The conceptual framework has different (and many times complementary) meanings and implications for different persons, depending on the sector they belong to, their roles, their understanding of what the interaction between research and policy should look like, and the reasons for promoting the use of knowledge in policy, among other factors.

If as policymaker you want to become an agent of change in fostering a better and more fruitful interaction between research and policy consider that those affected by your efforts could understand and use the framework in varied ways, for many different reasons. And diverse interpretations and motivations will generate very different actions and behaviors.

Thus, to make the conceptual framework more useful we depart from an understanding of the wide range of perspectives of its potential users:

- Perspectives imply that the conceptual framework or the government institution to which it is applied can be ‘seen’ in different ways, and that this will affect how the system is understood.

- Perspectives draw the attention away from the ‘system’ as it supposedly exists in ‘real life’ and also think about what the system might be like, could be like or even should be like. The similarities and differences between what is and what might be will create puzzles and contractions. When handled successfully, these ‘tensions’ can achieve deeper learning than just seeing things through one set of eyes and possibilities.

Bring on Perspectives

To incorporate perspectives into any change endeavor, consider the following questions:

• What are the different ways in which this framework can be understood and used (by myself and others)?
• How will these different understandings affect how we judge the success of our effort to enhance the use of research in policy?
• How will these understandings influence the behaviour of engaged and affected individuals, and thus the behaviour of the system, especially when things go wrong from their perspective? With what result and significance?

One baby step: select two members of your team/organization and two external and relevant stakeholders related to your work and ask them which are the contextual factors that are more important for them right now regarding your organization´s capacity to promote the use research in policy. Then ask them to select one or two in which changes from your side would be possible and positive.

For more on Perspectives, see the following Useful tools:

Soft Systems