Akerlof, Karen, Chris Tyler, Sarah Elizabeth Foxen, and 58 others (2019). A collaboratively derived international research agenda on legislative science advice. Palgrave Communications,5, 108. (doi: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-019-0318-6) (Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-019-0318-6#Bib1) (Open access: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-019-0318-6.pdf)

Abstract: The quantity and complexity of scientific and technological information provided to policymakers have been on the rise for decades. Yet little is known about how to provide science advice to legislatures, even though scientific information is widely acknowledged as valuable for decision-making in many policy domains. We asked academics, science advisers, and policymakers from both developed and developing nations to identify, review and refine, and then rank the most pressing research questions on legislative science advice (LSA). Experts generally agree that the state of evidence is poor, especially regarding developing and lower-middle income countries. Many fundamental questions about science advice processes remain unanswered and are of great interest: whether legislative use of scientific evidence improves the implementation and outcome of social programs and policies; under what conditions legislators and staff seek out scientific information or use what is presented to them; and how different communication channels affect informational trust and use. Environment and health are the highest priority policy domains for the field. The context-specific nature of many of the submitted questions—whether to policy issues, institutions, or locations—suggests one of the significant challenges is aggregating generalizable evidence on LSA practices. Understanding these research needs represents a first step in advancing a global agenda for LSA research.

Karen Akerlof <kakerlof@gmu.edu> is in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA (USA).

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