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Discover the UK Health and Care Evidence Ecosystem Interactive Map: A new tool helping primary care researchers engage with policymakers and increase research impact. Learn how to navigate the health policy landscape effectively.

A snapshot of the interactive tool

Engaging with policymakers is essential for ensuring that research findings are taken into account when making policy decisions. So how should researchers in Primary Care Health Sciences begin to think about engaging with policymakers in their research?

The UK Evidence Ecosystem Interactive Map is a tool designed to facilitate this connection between research and policy.

The Importance of Policy Engagement

Policy engagement refers to the various ways researchers and policymakers connect to explore common interests and improve public policy using academic evidence, expertise, and experience. This engagement can occur through informal enquiries, consultations, or sustained collaborations.

Policy engagement should be a central part of our work as academics and clinicians in primary care. Part of the Department research strategy includes “ensuring that the profile of our work is sufficiently high that it influences policy and that advances in the research base are implemented into practice”. Researchers from our Department make a difference through informing clinical guidelines, setting research priorities, contributing to legislation and policy and responding to parliamentary inquiries.

How the Interactive Map Supports Researchers

The UK Evidence Ecosystem Interactive Map is an innovative resource that visualises the institutions and their contributions to health policy research across the UK. The map was developed by Maeve Moran and Cervantée Wild, with support from the Oxford Policy Engagement Network (OPEN) and NIHR ARC OxTV, and consultation and peer review from Rachna Begh, Lauren Bandy, Anna Dowrick, Rebecca Payne, Tanvi Rai, and Sara Shaw. The final interactive version of the map was produced by Gavin Hubbard.

This tool can help identify key stakeholders, allowing researchers to locate and connect with key organisations involved in health policy, from government bodies to non-profits and academic institutions. Knowing who the key players are can facilitate collaborations and partnerships that enhance the reach and relevance of research.

Here are 10 questions to get you started:

  • What does policy engagement mean to you?
  • How relevant to any current public policy concerns is your work?
  • What does impact mean to you? In an ideal world, what specific and measurable impact(s) do you hope your research will have in policy?
  • How can you involve policy players early on in your research – e.g., in the framing of your research questions? What are they looking for?
  • What existing professional connections and entry points can you leverage to gain access to policy actors and organisations?
    If none exist, consider asking more senior colleagues to make introductions and contacts on your behalf – doors may open faster for more established academics.
  • How could policy organisations benefit from your research?
    Craft ‘lift pitches’ specific to each group you are looking to engage with – these should detail what in particular the organisation stands to gain from dialogue with you. Consider what incentives may drive each group to support or oppose change.
  • What are you doing to cultivate sustained, trusted collaborations with policy actors?
    Policy engagement should not be constrained to a single paper or output, and policy counterparts should feel there is a bidirectional knowledge exchange between your work and theirs.
  • What method or combination of methods will you use to communicate your findings?
    Consider creative means of dissemination beyond written policy briefs (e.g., workshops, social media).
  • How are you building the fiscal costs of policy engagement into your grant proposal?
  • How much time and effort do you expect to dedicate to policy engagement? How will you structure this around other professional responsibilities?

We hope that the UK Health and Care Evidence Ecosystem Interactive Map, alongside reflecting on these questions, will be useful for researchers in Primary Care Health Sciences to help your research have a meaningful and lasting impact.

Maeve Moran was an Ann McPherson Fellow in the Medical Sociology and Health Experiences Research Group from 2022-2023, and is now undertaking a PhD at Trinity College Dublin.


Written by Cervantée Wild and Maeve Moran.

Opinions expressed are those of the author/s and not of the University of Oxford. Readers' comments will be moderated - see our guidelines for further information.


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