Assessing the impact of research on policy

The authors of this review analyse various evaluation methods (including ethnographic and quantitative approaches, focus groups, process tracing, and network mapping and analysis) to find out which ones are the most suitable to evaluate the impact of research on policy change. 

They summarise the pros and cons of using qualitative and quantitative approaches. They also acknowledge the value of mixed method approaches, emphasising the different contributions the two approaches can make. The authors show that using both internal and external evaluators might enrich the assessment through bringing different perspectives into the evaluation. In conclusion they propose answering eight questions, which are designed to build an evaluation framework tailored to fit the organisational context, resources and individual requirements.

Although this review was conducted by the Centre for Evidence & Policy at King’s College London, and the Environment Group at Policy Studies Institute to explore methods for evaluating the impact of research on policy outcomes that might be appropriate to the Sustainable Waste and Resource Management and the Sustainable Consumption and Production research programmes, the toolbox of options used in evaluating the impact of research on policy seems to be relatively transferable to different policy domains. It is suggested however that environmental policy typically involves a wide range of stakeholders and that the views of stakeholders need to be heard in the evaluation process.


  • Literature review
  • Background to the project
  • Options
  • Mapping the literature
  • Using the literature to answer the review question
  • What the literature doesn't tell us
  • Conclusions


Boaz, A., Fitzpatrick, S., & Shaw, B. King’s College London & Policy Studies Institute, (2008).Assessing the impact of research on policy: A review of the literature for a project on bridging research and policy through outcome evaluation(Final report). Retrieved from website:

Related methods

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