On 17 March 2017, GYA member Patrizio Antici participated in the Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) participatory workshop focused on professional skills needed in organisations working at the evidence-policy interface.

The JRC is the European Commission’s in-house science service and ever since a Memorandum of Understanding between the JRC and the GYA was signed in 2014, our members have been invited to attend and contribute to the various meetings and workshops and so to add the voice of young scientists to the European science-for-policy dialogue.

While in the past, science advise was often neglected or even forbidden (a striking example is Galileo’s trial and condemnation of 1633), in the last years, government and international bodies (such as the European Commission, the International Council for Science, UNESCO or the Global Science Forum) have been putting strong efforts into the establishment of organised structures that foster the flow of information from scientific to policy domains with the intention of allowing for informed decision-making.

A first workshop, convened by the GYA and sponsored by the JRC and INGSA, the International Network for Government Science Advice, about “Broadening the scope of science advice engaging knowledge-creators beyond the academy” was held in Brussels in September 2016 and aimed at looking into the ways young scientists could offer a fresh perspective on how the research community can respond to the increasing demand for more open policy-making and what barriers remain in the policy-making community that hamper inclusiveness of scientists. In that meeting, the participants identified that whether producing scientific knowledge or developing policy, both sides involved with evidence require a collective skillset to address the challenges of the field.

The identification of such a skillset was the main goal of the current workshop organised in March by the JRC. About 40 leading experts working internationally on the theory and practice of evidence-for-policy participated in the meeting and discussed the required skills. In different brainstorming sessions the experts exchanged their experience on what specific competences are needed and how these can be trained. As a first result, it was proposed to categorise the skillsets into four main areas, e.g. 1) Research Synthesis; 2) Managing (interdisciplinary) Networks of Practitioners in Science-Policy Interface; 3) Practical Understanding of the Science-Evidence-Policy Nexus; and 4) Communication.

Additionally, participants suggested more specific skills that should be included in science-for-policy training. These are:

  1. Facilitation as distinct from training
  2. Storytelling for scientists
  3. Filters for evidence/Policy-makers on a diet
  4. Governance of evidence
  5. Listening to the public
  6. Critical appraisal of evidence
  7. Habitus

In the coming months, the participants will continue to work on these skills categories and develop a more specific training plan that shall then be implemented in the training of future science advisers in order to improve the interaction between science and policy-makers.

For more details on the workshop and the skills discussed see here.