Cambridge University has worked with over 50 experts from the around the world to draw up a list of questions, the answers to which they believe will allow science to have a much more positive impact on public policy.
Prof William Sutherland, along with the University’s Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) invited 52 scientists and leading lights in government, NGOs and industry to identify key questions which, if addressed through focused research, could “both address important theoretical challenges and also improve the mutual understanding and effectiveness of those who work at the interface of science and policy.”
Each participant was invited to produce a list of questions; through a process of voting, deliberation and further voting, the initial list was distilled into a final set of 40 questions.
The final questions include an examination of how policy makers understand and respond to scientific uncertainties and expert disagreements and whether making science advice more transparent has improved its quality.
The questions form the base of a new research agenda published today in PLoS ONE, a leading interdisciplinary open-access journal.
Dr Robert Doubleday, head of research at the CSaP said: "For the first time scientific advisers, policy makers, and academics who study science policy have come together through a structured process to agree a common research agenda.
"This is a critically important step as too often in the past there has been a serious disconnect between the theory and practice of science policy. This paper will help overcome this gap."
Professor Sutherland said: "When public policy is supported by scientifically-sound evidence, it is to the benefit of all of society."
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