Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Seminar: Academic research and evidence-based policies in Timor-Leste and Indonesia

7 November 2016
Old Observatory
Sterrenwachtlaan 11
2311 GPW Leiden

The evidence-based policymaking model argues that policy decisions should be based on scientific research that identifies and fills the gaps in knowledge necessary for developing a specific policy decision. The assumption of this model is that, through scientific research, it is possible to find adequate solutions to a policy problem. This model for policymaking has gained traction over the last two decades and has been used in the preparation and financing of aid projects to developing counties, but also in the policymaking process of more developed countries. But how should this model be applied in practice? How can non-normative research be converted into normative products? Who defines the policy problems that evidence addressed? And, how should the research approaches be decided?

These practical questions point at the type of criticisms this model has attracted. While, at a first glance, the idea that policymaking should be based on research seems logical and undisputable, in reality the evidence-based policymaking model is not exempt from criticism. Some authors have argued that this model, at least in its most idealistic form, is based on several naïve and positivist assumptions that do not take into consideration the limitations of the types of questions research can answer (Greenhalegh & Russell, 2009). These authors do not deny that policy should be informed by research, but they critique the idea that research can provide the ‘right’ answer. Furthermore, these authors point out that, contrary to common assumptions, research is not ideologically neutral and is often dependent on or partial to lobby groups and vested interests.

Presented by and for academics and development practitioners, this conference will share experiences of conceptualizing, designing and developing academic research for evidence-based policies in developing countries, and will also debate the limits of the evidence-based policymaking model.

Please register for this seminar by sending an email to: vollenhoven@law.leidenuniv.nl