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  • Writer's pictureClara Richards

Seeking for great researchers at think tanks

 [Editor’s note: This post was written by Andrea Ordóñez and Leandro Echt as part of a process of developing an online course targeted to think tankers on research for policy making, supported by the Think Tank Fund and the Think Tank Initiative.]

Researching (and researchers) is at the heart of what think tanks and research centres do. However, how often do we reflect on how we carry out research (especially in the context of its link with policy), and what are our assumptions about this work? At Politics and Ideas we are convinced that doing high quality  and policy relevant research is just as important as communicating or disseminating it effectively. This is why we are developing a new course meant for researchers at think tanks and in the process we want to learn from the best.

What are we planning?

The course is meant for researchers at think tanks who want to learn with others about the critical questions when carrying out research at a think tank. We will explore the concepts of research quality, the role of researchers in the policy process, how to develop research agendas and how to plan a research project with policy in mind. The course will set out a variety of tools and approaches while inviting researchers to reflect on their personal and institutional assumptions about research and its connections with the policy arena in which the think tanks operate. The objective is that researchers will become familiar with ways in which they can improve their current practices for planning research agendas and projects that effectively interact with policymaking processes.

Who are we looking for?

We want to learn from the best. We are looking for interesting and inspiring researchers from think tanks that have successfully read the policy environment to make strategic research decisions. You are welcome to nominate yourself or others who:

  1. Manage an inspiring policy research agenda, either personally or institutionally

  2. Has produced compelling policy research outputs in a timely, creative and contextualized way

  3. Is exploring or using innovative methods for research and policy analysis

  4. Have a killer instinct to identify new trends and windows of opportunity in policy research

What for?

We want to learn from researchers who are doing interesting work in think tanks in terms of generating kwnledge that is relevant and useful for policymakers or policy processes. For this, nominated individuals will be interviewed by the Politics and Ideas team. The interview will be used to develop the content of the course, and the interview might get published at Politics and Ideas. The nominees may be invited to participate and present in one of the modules of the course that will take place in October and November of 2015.

Why we think it is important to co-create knowledge?

Following Politics & Ideas’ approach to the development of content for capacity building, we are currently inviting several think tankers, think tanks’ specialists and donors to share their feedback on our preliminary curricula and their experience in conducting research. We are gradually receiving good feedback on the relevance and need of this course. We look forward to sharing what we learn from them and their contributions in upcoming posts. We welcome any good ideas on how to think about capacity development on this topic for think tankers, including literature, good and bad experiences, and food for thought! After all, doing good policy relevant research is a combination of science, art and effort and we want to know how to do it in practice.

How to nominate?

If you want to share your experience in managing research at your think tank or want to nominate a colleague with admirable experience on it, please let us know by sending an e mail to We will be happy to talk with you and incorporate your insights in the development of the course.

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