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The Bridge: New ANZSOG initiative to bridge the gap between researchers and public servants

24 March 2020

News and media


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Good research is vital for creating quality public policy and programs, but this research is not always available to public servants in an accessible format.

Researchers and the public sector should be natural partners but, in practice, the gap between them can often be wide.

That’s why ANZSOG has launched The Bridge, an initiative designed to bridge the gap between the research work of academics and the policy work of public servants, by providing access to bite-sized chunks of accessible, high-quality research.

The Bridge is emailed fortnightly to thousands of engaged readers, including public servants and academics, in Australia, New Zealand and globally. It centers around a Research Brief which distills academic research into an easy-to-read format and will be complemented by other insights into public policy and management.

It aims to improve the uptake of research by the public sector, strengthen engagement between academic researchers and publishers, and allow research with a practical application to reach a wide audience.

The Bridge is compiled and curated by Maria Katsonis – a former senior Victorian public servant with more than 20 years’ experience, who is now a Public Policy Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She was previously the curator of The Drop – a joint project between ANZSOG and The Mandarin.

The first issue, which will be sent out on March 25, will focus on the COVID-19 outbreak: including learning lessons from overseas, what not to do, success stories and why society is panicking – as well as a research brief on policy co-design.

Click here to subscribe to The Bridge

ANZSOG Dean and CEO Ken Smith said that public sector leaders, especially those providing advice to governments, needed access to research evidence when developing policy.

“In these times of uncertainty, evidence-based policy and decision-making are more vital than ever,” Professor Smith said.

“However, too often researchers lament that the public service ignores their work, while public servants say academic research is not timely or applied to their day-to-day challenges. The Bridge will make vital research available in an accessible format.”

In launching The Bridge, ANZSOG is responding to feedback from our government owners and university partners, as well as research showing the need for research translation for the public sector. The study found that although academic research was valuable, it was not being used by many staff in public sector decision-making.

Three researchers from the University of Queensland, Professor Paul Boreham, Dr Adrian Cherney and Professor Brian Head, conducted a study that identified a range of issues impeding the uptake of academic research in policy development.

Barriers to research included the time pressures of public management work, difficulty in accessing the full text of research, lack of opportunities to build partnerships with researchers and a lack of research presented in a user-friendly form.

“There is clearly a gap between researchers and policymakers, and as part of our mission to improve the practice of public administration and leadership in Australia and New Zealand, ANZSOG is launching The Bridge to close that gap and bring researchers and the public sector closer together,” Professor Smith said.