e-International Relations asked me to write a piece about doing policy-relevant research. I thought I’d cross-post it here, especially timely given recent posts on this blog along with Ronald Rogowski’s screed that our work is too policy-relevant but policymakers just don’t want to hear what we are saying (HT: The Monkey Cage). Here is the full post:
During graduate school, the community of up and coming scholars who wanted to do policy-relevant research seemed a bit like Fight Club. It was something each of us secretly wanted to pursue but were reluctant to talk about in public. We found each other at those few conferences and workshops that were designed for folks like us such as SMAMOS, New Era, and even IQMR. More recently, as junior faculty, like-minded academics would come across each other at IPSI, the Next Generation Project, and Term Member gatherings of CFR.
Does it get better? For years, we have seen warnings and lamentations by some of our senior colleagues about the policy-academic divide (see here, here, here, here, here, here). Some attribute it to a rise in statistics and later game theory, others suggesting it has to do with the professional incentives that encourage scholars to eschew grand theory for more targeted, esoteric work in semi-obscure peer-reviewed outlets.