20. March | 2023

Making Research-Based Consulting for Society and Policy-Makers Easier

New Digital Repository under Construction

Research-led policy and societal advice has gained enormous importance in recent years. Political decisions are increasingly based on diverse empirical research results and expert opinions. However, searching for these advisory documents can be tedious and time-consuming, as they are scattered on various websites and often cannot be searched specifically. For this reason, the Repository for Policy Documents (REPOD) is now being launched. With REPOD, a digital repository is being established that makes advisory documents searchable in a targeted manner across disciplines and ensures uniform quality assurance. The goal is to create an information and advisory infrastructure for policy-makers and society by the end of 2023 that will make the transfer of knowledge from research much easier.

Academic advice for policy-makers and society has become increasingly important in recent years and has also become more and more differentiated. Most recently, the Corona pandemic and the war of aggression in Ukraine have shown that in a time of crisis, new demands must be made on the communication flows between politics and research. Precisely fitting, interdisciplinary and up-to-date advice is particularly in demand in such a situation. In the course of this, the relevance of the existing institutions of scientific policy and societal advice have come into focus. But their limitations have also been pointed out. On the one hand, there are the institutionalised expert bodies of the federal government, such as the Council of Experts or the Bioeconomy Council. On the other hand, there are the departmental research institutions, which are part of the portfolio of individual ministries and provide science-based advice. The Robert Koch Institute has become particularly well-known in the Corona pandemic. In addition, there are the scientific academies, universities and non-university research institutions, as well as the plethora of think tanks, foundations and private policy consultancies that also claim to provide science-based policy and social advice.

A New Digital Infrastructure for Research-Based Advice

Policy papers, expert reports and studies are central instruments of these actors. However, if you want to read these texts, you have to work your way through the websites of the various institutions, which have to be known by name beforehand. At present, they cannot be searched for specifically.

This is now to change with the establishment of the "Repository for Policy Documents" (REPOD). Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), a digital infrastructure facility will be set up by the end of 2023 that will record a wide range of scientific advisory documents across disciplines and make them searchable for decision-makers and the interested public.

Understanding the User Side

In order to optimise this transfer of knowledge from research to politics, administration and society, processes of creation, quality criteria and conditions of use of advisory documents are scientifically investigated. In cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans Bredow Institute, the IRS takes a look at the entire process of agenda setting, professional exchange, creation, use and updating of policy advisory documents. The team at the IRS focuses primarily on the side of use, i.e. that of political decision-makers and administrative experts. What role do advisory documents play for these actors? How are they searched for and how are they used? How can the documents be designed so that they are relevant for the users? Through a better understanding of the contexts of creation and use, research-based policy and social advice can be organised in a more demand-oriented way. The findings of the accompanying research flow directly into the development of the repository and should help to make it more user-friendly and practical.

The REPOD research consortium is headed by the ZBW - (Leibniz Information Centre for Economics). The research consortium also includes the IRS, the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans Bredow Institute (HBI), the RWI - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and, as an associated partner, the Leibniz Association.

With the Repository for Policy Documents (REPOD), a central information and advisory infrastructure for politics and society will be available at the beginning of 2024.

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