4. The 'Context, Evidence, Links' Policy Framework



Recommended (depending on need)

Description and Purpose:

The below ‘context, evidence, links’ model was designed as a theoretical model to highlight to researchers the different factors that are important in the policy process. However, it also lends itself well to a project planning framework, and has been adapted for this purpose in the grid below: ‘How to influence policy and practice’.


The below model has been adapted to provide easy-to-follow guidance in the grid below it.

How to Influence Policy and Practice: 

What researchers need to know What researchers need to do How to do it
Political Context:
  • Who are the policymakers?
  • Is there policymaker demand for new ideas?
  • What are the sources/strengths of resistance?
  • What is the policymaking process?
  • What are the opportunities and timing for input?
  • Get to know the policymakers, their agendas and their constraints
  • Identify potential supporters and opponents.
  • Keep an eye on the horizon and prepare for opportunities in regular policy processes.
  • Look out for, and react to, unexpected policy windows
  • Work with the policymakers.
  • Seek commissions.
  • Line up research programs with high-profile policy events
  • Reserve resources to be able to move quickly to respond to policy windows
  • Allow sufficient time and resources.
  • What is the current theory?
  • What are the prevailing narratives?
  • How divergent is the new evidence?
  • What sort of evidence will convince policymakers?
  • Establish credibility over the long term.
  • Provide practical solutions to problems.
  • Establish legitimacy.
  • Build a convincing case and present clear policy options.
  • Package new ideas in familiar theory or narratives
  • Communicate effectively.
  • Build up programs of high quality work
  • Action-research and Pilot projects to demonstrate benefits of new approaches.
  • Use participatory approaches to help with legitimacy and implementation.
  • Clear strategy for communication from the start. 
  • Face-to-face communication.
  • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • What links and networks exist between them?
  • Who are the intermediaries and do they have influence?
  • Whose side are they on?
  • Get to know the donors, their priorities and constraints.
  • Identify potential supporters, key individuals and networks.
  • Establish credibility.
  • Keep an eye on donor policy and look out for policy windows.
  • Develop extensive background knowledge on donor policies
  • Orient communications to suit donor priorities and language
  • Cooperate with donors and seek commissions
  • Contact (regularly) key individuals. 

Adapted from Tools for Policy Impact: A Handbook for Researchers Overseas Development Institute (ODI)