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This informal collection is designed to further a dialogue about the relationship between communications research and policy making. In particular it focuses on the impact of academic research on communications policy, and whether, and how, policy draws upon research (if at all). As quasi-editors (and commissioners of these essays) we have been highlighting various assumptions in the process. These assumptions mark every stage of the question (of the relevance of what academics do to what policy makers do). They mark an idealized mode of thinking about policy-making—an idealized mode sometimes articulated in legislation or judicial decision (or agency practice). The assumptions include the following:
- Good and democratic policy making should be based upon an informed deliberation, and include relevant research findings.
- Policy making involves problem solving, guided change and conflict resolution.
- Communications research should be (designed to be) an important input into policy making.
- Policy makers have an appetite for (or can be compelled to have an appetite) research
- There is room for “disinterested research” and possibly academic research has that quality
- Academic research has a kind of methodological purity or excellence or at least strives for that
- There is a disconnect between the demand and supply of policy relevant communications research.
- In part, this is a problem of access to research and data (although with the Internet, this has become more a “translation” and “communications” problem, i.e. researchers fail to communicate timely and for a broader audience).
- In part, the disconnect is a result of the difference between academic research and policymaking with regard to:
- Incentives (e.g. tenure/peer review vs political viability)
- Timetables (e.g. journal deadlines vs immediately)
- Format preferences (lengthy vs succinct)
- Agenda and relevance (old vs new challenges and technologies)
- Quality and validity standards (neutral vs political)
- Information about demand and supply
- In part, the problem is related with the ignorance and capacity of policy makers vis-à-vis using research.
What this effort hopes to do is to deepen and challenge these assumptions, as they relate to communications research and policy.
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Price, Monroe; Verhulst, Stefaan; and Morgan, Libby. (2008). The Speculative Influence of Academic Research on the Making of Communications Policy: Reflections, Recollections and Informal Perspectives. Other Publications from the Center for Global Communication Studies.
Retrieved from https://repository.upenn.edu/cgcs_publications/11
Date Posted: 06 February 2017