What would a more evidence-informed impact agenda look like? Response from an “impact professional”

Posted on

By Anne-Sofie Laegran

Having been part of the emerging “impact profession” and followed the agenda closely since 2008, I found Smith et al.’s book an excellent account of the controversies, consequences and challenges that has risen from the impact agenda. I agree with their alternative and broad approach to supporting and incentivising research impact, and hope it gains support institutionally.


What would a more evidence-informed impact agenda look like?

Posted on

By Kat Smith and Justyna Bandola-Gill

Earlier this year (against the difficult backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic), Policy Press published our book, The Impact Agenda: Controversies, Consequences and Challenges, co-authored with Nasar Meer, Ellen Stewart and Richard Watermeyer. This book brings together earlier work that we had developed in discussion with SKAPE colleagues.

Our aims were:

  • To bring together disparate work on the impact agenda to critically reflect on the controversies, consequences and challenges that are arising;
  • To reflect on our own role, as academics, within this;
  • To collectively propose an alternative approach.


Public participation and algorithmic policy tools

Posted on

By Antonio Ballesteros

The past couple of months have increased the need for accurate, and transparent, tools that allow policymakers to track and forecast the behaviour of the pandemic we are going through. For instance, different groups of researchers in the UK have used machine learning (ML) algorithms to forecast the type of treatment a person should receive based on the first days of infection [see: 1, 2, 3]. In a broad sense, ML forecasting tools refer to a set of algorithms designed to process data and find patterns. Part of the authority set on quantitative tools (QTs), such as forecasts, is on the idea that as a way of transparency, they can be replicated. However, the notion of replicability understood as obtaining the same results as the original experiment might not be achievable. From a social perspective, a lack of replicability would impact the possibility to challenge a forecast by those been affected. In the case of QTs, at least three elements might not allow their replicability: (more…)

Energy transition or energy revolution?

Posted on

By Dr Mark Winskel and Dr Michael Kattirtzi, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies Group, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh.

Policy revolution

There’s been a revolutionary turn in energy policy and research circles. Organisations such as the Energy Systems Catapult, the Energy Institute, and consultancy firms such as PwC have all suggested that the UK energy system is facing a sweeping energy revolution. As part of its wider industrial strategy, the UK Government now channels much of its energy innovation spending under a ‘Prospering from the Energy Revolution’ programme, including an academic-led Energy Revolution Research Consortium.


What does ‘evidence’ mean to MPs and officials in the UK House of Commons?

Posted on

A blog by Marc Geddes, based on a recent open-access article published in Public Administration.

Select committees are the principal mechanism of accountability in the House of Commons and act as information-gathering tools for Parliament. They are generally regarded as influential in the UK policy-making process (even if this is often informal), who enjoy widespread media coverage, and who have a generally positive reputation. Despite their importance, we know comparatively little about how they approach and use evidence to support their work (with some notable exceptions). In this blog, I want to explore precisely this topic. (more…)

Kat Smith, Sudeepa Abeysinghe and Christina Boswell: Reflections on the impact of Covid-19

Posted on

This blogpost is a summary of the SKAPE Seminar on the 24 June 2020

Kat Smith (Strathclyde), Sudeepa Abeysinghe (Social Policy, Edinburgh) and Christina Boswell (PIR, Edinburgh) presented three complementary perspectives on the on the impact of Covid-19 on the study of the relationship between science, knowledge and policy.

Christina Boswell noted the extent, and unprecedented (more…)

Seven Questions for Studying Science, Knowledge and Policy in a Covid-19 World

Posted on

Marc Geddes, Justyna Bandola-Gill, and Steve Yearley 

Covid-19 has spread across the globe, upturning our personal lives and uprooting our routines; and led to significant health problems including, sadly, deaths. Across the globe, people have been forced into lockdown to prevent physical contact with others. Covid-19 has already, or is going to, impact all areas of our lives. It will challenge us in many as-yet unforeseen ways.

From the beginning of this crisis, we have witnessed a growing importance of the questions of the role of science, knowledge and expertise in politics and society. As the SKAPE community we have been exploring these themes from multiple perspectives for nearly a decade and (more…)

Uncertainty, Pandemics and Policy

Posted on

A blogpost by Sudeepa Abeysinghe, Lecturer in Global Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh 

This blogpost is a repost of a blogpost published in April 2016 on the SKAPE blogpage 

The global management of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases present a complex governance issue. The most recent Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), the incidence of cases of microcephaly associated with the Zika virus, demonstrates the high level of scientific uncertainty associated with infectious disease risks. When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the PHEIC in February, the issue was surrounded by a high degree of uncertainty: for example, around the mode of transmission (and the possibility of sexual transmission), the association between microcephaly and Zika infection, and the likelihood of a Zika-infected pregnant woman carrying a child with microcephaly. (more…)

Governing, knowledge and time: a governmentality perspective

Posted on

A blogpost by Dr. Marlon Barbehön, Heidelberg University

This blogpost based on a talk at the SKAPE seminar on 27 August 2019 

Time and practices of governing are intertwined in multiple ways. Political rule in general and its democratic form in particular are not possible without the temporalisation of processes and of institutional settings which constitute specific rhythms of political participation, deliberation, and decision-making. Political order can be seen as a complex configuration of stages, periods, intervals, cycles, and deadlines, which foster predictability and enable purposeful political action. At the same time, political strategies can be built on utilisations of time, (more…)

Democratising expertise? Lay citizens in the role of experts

Posted on

A blogpost by Eva Krick, ARENA Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo

This blogpost is based on a talk at the SKAPE seminar on 20 March 2019

In the SKAPE seminar, I would like to discuss a first outline of a research proposal that I am developing. It focuses on the involvement of ‘lay’ or ‘citizen experts’ in knowledge and advice production through practices such as citizen science, service user involvement and certain forms of citizen panels.

I have been working on the relationship between expertise and democracy for a while and, more particularly, on institutional solutions to the tensions between epistemic and democratic demands in the phase of policy development. (more…)