McKenzie, F., Sotarauta, M., Blažek, J., Beer, A. and Ayres, S. (2020) Towards research impact: using place-based policy to develop new research methods for bridging the academic/policy divide. Regional Studies, Regional Science, 7(1), 431-444
There is increasing pressure on academics to show the impact of their research. At the same time, policy-makers are expected to draw upon a wide base of evidence, including academic research, to develop innovative solutions to often intractable societal problems. Despite these complementary objectives of impact and use of evidence, the relationship between academics and policy-makers is often difficult. Some have characterized these groups as ‘two worlds’, each with differing objectives, methods and timeframes. This paper explores the issues associated with this problem and outlines a new approach to research which seeks to engage both government agencies and academics. It makes use of a publishing initiative of the Regional Studies Association (RSA) to produce research that is of value to both government officials and academic researchers. This method aimed to develop a shared understanding with the potential to benefit both groups. While the focus of the research was on place-based regional policy, comparable methods could be applied to many other questions of interest to both governments and researchers working in regional studies and other social science fields.