Many scholars agree that the best way for researchers to ensure that their research has an impact on policy and practice is to form meaningful relationships with policymakers. Yet, little is known about what relationships do exist between researchers and policymakers, and whether they underpin meaningful interaction. Further, it is not clear whether merely having a connection is sufficient to (a) ensure research is made available to policymakers nor (b) whether it influences policy. To explore these questions, three social networks within a policy community in the UK were mapped, using snowballing sampling to capture networks of information sharing, perceived influence, and perceived power in public health policy. These data were analysed using centrality measures, Hubs and Authorities, and consensus analysis to explore different ways to understand who the key actors in public health policy were, and why. This analysis was complimented with qualitative case studies to explore the mechanisms by which individuals were able to exert influence over the policy process. Methodological implications for network analysts are discussed, an implications for the evidence-based policy discourse.
This event is part of the Nuffield Social Network Seminar Series.